2006 Nova Scotia General Election

Feature by Jay Makarenko || May 1, 2006

In June 2006, Nova Scotia voters re-elected the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, and Premier Rodney MacDonald to another minority government. Since 2003, the Progressive Conservatives have governed as a minority, first under John Hamm, who resigned in February 2006, and then under his successor, MacDonald. This article provides information on the key election procedures and participants, news and analysis, as well as the election results.

Nova Scotia Voter Information

What you need to know to participate

Pre-Election Party Standings

Party standings at dissolution

Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia

Party history, election platform & leader

Nova Scotia New Democratic Party

Party history, election platform & leader

Liberal Party of Nova Scotia

Party history, election platform & leader

Green Party of Nova Scotia

Party history, election platform & leader

2006 Nova Scotia Election News & Issues

Key election news, issues & debates

2006 Nova Scotia Election Results

Progressive Conservatives win another minority government

Links to Further Information

Find out more about the 2006 Nova Scotia election


Nova Scotia Voter Information

What you need to know to participate

How the Election Works

Nova Scotia is divided into different electoral constituencies or ridings, each of which is represented in the provincial legislature, called the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. These constituencies are geographically based, representing particular areas of the province, and tend to have roughly the same number of voters in each.

During a general election, voters in each constituency elect an official, called a Member of the Legislative Assembly (or MLA) to represent the riding in the provincial House of Assembly. In so doing, voters usually select from a number of candidates, casting a ballot in favour of one candidate. After the polls have closed, all of the votes for each candidate are counted; the candidate who receives the most votes becomes the MLA for that particular constituency.

Who becomes premier and forms the government depends on the outcome of all of these constituency elections. Each candidate usually belongs to a recognized political party, such as the Progressive Conservatives, the New Democrats, or the Liberals. The premier is usually the leader of the political party that has elected the most MLAs across the province. S/he then chooses a Cabinet and forms the government. 

Who Can Vote in the Election

To vote in the Nova Scotia provincial election, a person must be: 1) a Canadian citizen, 2) 18 years of age older on election day, and 3) have resided in Nova Scotia for six months or more before the date the election was called.

How to Vote in the Election

Each qualified voter can only vote once in an election and only in the constituency in which s/he normally resides. Prior to each election, each voter is sent a Voter Information Card, which identifies the voter, his/her polling station, and the polling station’s hours of operation.

If a person is voting in person on the day of the election, s/he simply goes to the polling station during opening hours, submits the Voter Information Card and a piece of identification proving s/he is the person identified on the Card. Each voter is then issued a folded ballot with a list of candidates for that electoral constituency. The voter takes the ballot behind a screen and marks an ‘X’ next to the name of his/her preferred candidate. Each voter can select only one candidate; choosing more than one candidate means the ballot will be considered spoiled and will not be counted in the official results.

For more information on spoiled ballots:

If a person does not receive a Voter Information Card, but still qualifies as a voter in the election (see above), s/he can find out where and when to vote by contacting Elections Nova Scotia (contact information is provided at the Elections Nova Scotia Website). When voting at the polling station, the person will need to submit appropriate documentation confirming his/her identity, and that s/he resides in the constituency.

For more information on proper identification for voting:

If a voter is unable to vote at the polling station on Election Day s/he may cast a vote in absentee and advance polls held prior to the election. Electors may also cast write-in ballots, with the ballot being submitted by regular mail.

For more information on alternative ways of voting:


Pre-Election Party Standings

Party standings at dissolution

Results of the Last Election

The last provincial election was held in August of 2003, with the Progressive Conservative Party, led by John Hamm, forming government. The results of the election were very close; the Progressive Conservatives won only 25 of 53 seats in the House of Assembly, forming a minority government. The New Democratic Party became the Official Opposition, winning 15 seats, with the provincial Liberal Party garnering 12 seats.

2003 Nova Scotia Election Results

Political Parties

Popular Vote

Seats Won

Status

Progressive Conservatives

36.33%

25

Minority Gov't

New Democrat Party

31.01%

15

Official Opposition

Liberal Party

31.44%

12

-

Other

1.22%

-

-

For more information on the 2003 Nova Scotia Election:

Standings Prior to the 2006 Election

Since the 2003 election, there have been some changes to the political parties' seat totals. In April 2005, Russell MacKinnon, the Liberal MLA for Cape Breton West, left his party due to ideological differences and decided to sit as an independent in the Assembly. The Liberals lost another seat in October 2005 when Danny Graham, former leader of the Party and MLA for Halifax Citadel, resigned from the Assembly in order to be with his wife during her battle with cancer. Mr. Graham’s seat remained vacant at the time the general election was called in May 2006.

The Progressive Conservatives also lost a seat in December 2004 when John Chataway, MLA for Chester-St. Margaret’s, passed away. However, the Party recovered the seat in June 2005 when Judy Streatch won the subsequent by-election, defeating her closest competitor, Liberal Rick Fraughton, by 400 votes.

Party Standings Prior to 2006 Election

Political Parties

Seats

Status

Progressive Conservatives

25

Minority Gov't

New Democratic Party

15

Official Opposition

Liberal Party

10

-

Independent

1

-

Vacant

1

 


Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia

Party history, election platform & leader

Party History

The Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia is a moderate right-of-centre political party. The modern version of the Party has its roots in the Red Tory movement of post-World War II, which supported traditional institutions like religion and the monarchy, maintenance of social order, and an interventionist state that would provide robust public services (such as public health care, education, unemployment insurance, and other forms of social assistance) to its citizens. Since the 1950s, the Progressive Conservatives have been the dominant political party on the Nova Scotia provincial scene. Between 1956 and 2006 the Progressive Conservatives governed for 36 years.

2006 Election Platform

Today, the Progressive Conservative Party vision offers a blend of fiscal conservatism and centrist social policy. Key components of the Party’s 2006 election platform included:

  • Debt: Maintain Nova Scotia’s legislated commitments to debt management and reduction (as found in the Province’s Expenditure Control Act, requiring the government to place limits on growth in spending), offshore oil revenue agreements with the federal government (which included federal transfers for provincial debt reduction), and the Debt Reduction Plan (which includes a commitment to reduce the provincial debt).
  • Taxation: Provide tax relief to Nova Scotians, mainly in the form of tax credits. This includes increasing basic income tax exemptions, eliminating corporate capital taxes, increasing the tax credits for parents to help offset the costs of registering children in recreation activities, a new child care tax credit, and the provision of a tax credit to graduating post-secondary students.
  • Health Care: Several spending initiatives, totaling $60 million, to reduce health care waiting times, hire more health care professionals, improve care for seniors, and provide better cancer care. The Party has also promised to provide a universal prescription dug program targeting the 140,000 Nova Scotians without drug coverage.
  • Education: Commitments to lower tuition, by more than $1,000, for post-secondary students, and to create smaller class sizes for students in Grades 1 through 6.
  • Roads & Highways: Commitment to several projects, totaling $34 million, for new and existing highways, roads, and bridges.
  • Crime: Several initiatives to combat crime, including a $65 million commitment to hire 250 new police officers, and a promise to introduce new legislation allowing the courts to permanently close drug houses and stolen vehicle ‘chop shops.’
  • Home Heating: A promise to reduce the provincial sales tax on home heating in order to reduce costs for Nova Scotians.

For more information on the Progressive Conservatives' policies and priorities:

Party Leader: Rodney MacDonald

Rodney MacDonald was born in 1972 and grew up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. MacDonald attended St. Francis Xavier University, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education, and later went into teaching. He is also an accomplished musician; in 1998 he received two nominations as a fiddler at the East Coast Music Awards.

MacDonald’s political career began in 1999 when he was elected the Progressive Conservative MLA for the riding of Inverness. MacDonald’s career to date includes a number of cabinet appointments: he has served as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage; Minister of Health Promotion; and Minister of Immigration. In 2005/06, MacDonald ran in the Progressive Conservative leadership race to replace John Hamm, who had announced his intention to resign. MacDonald beat his closest rival Bill Black, on the second ballot, with 1,263 votes (to Black’s 855). As the Progressive Conservatives were the governing party at the time, MacDonald automatically became Nova Scotia’s next Premier.

MacDonald is married to Lori-Ann Gillis. Together they have one son.

For more information on Rodney MacDonald:


Nova Scotia New Democratic Party

Party history, election platform & leader

Party History

The Nova Scotia New Democratic Party is a moderate left-of-centre political party. The modern version of the Party was founded in 1961 and is based on social democratic views, such as the promotion of social equality through an interventionist state and strong public services (such as public health care delivery, education, and other social assistance programs). The Party had very little electoral success throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In the late-1990s, however, the Party achieved a major breakthrough, winning 19 seats and Official Opposition status in the 1998 provincial election. The Party was later reduced to 11 seats in the 1999 election, and subsequently won 15 seats in the 2003 contest.

2006 Election Platform

Key components of the New Democratic 2006 election platform included:

  • Debt: A commitment to continue balancing the provincial budget.
  • Taxation: A pledge to phase out the Corporations Capital Tax to attract more businesses to the province.
  • Health Care: A pledge to shorten waiting times by creating 500 new nursing home beds, consequently freeing up hospital beds for emergency care; increasing emergency and diagnostic capacity by using current facilities more effectively; and, a commitment to increase the number of nurses and doctors in the province. The Party has also committed to address issues of working conditions for health care professionals.
  • Senior Care: In addition to creating 500 new nursing home beds, the Party promised to hire 100 new home-care workers, eliminate ambulance fees for seniors, and reduce drug costs for seniors.
  • Child Care: Expand access to high quality, affordable child care and early childhood education by creating 2,500 more subsidized child care spaces.
  • Post-Secondary Education: Provide financial relief to post-secondary students by decreasing tuition fees by 10 percent and by increasing provincial debt-relief and bursary programs.
  • Primary & Secondary Education: Increase funding for primary and secondary education, including doubling the text book budget for schools; improving services for special needs students by hiring more speech and language therapists; and, making schools safer by providing resources to address issues such as school bullying.
  • Home Heating: Eliminate provincial sales taxes on home heating to reduce costs for Nova Scotians. The Party has also pledged to provide interest-free loans to homeowners and small businesses for energy efficiency retrofits to reduce energy consumption.
  • Auto Insurance: Reduce auto-insurance rates through the creation of a public auto insurance plan. The Party has also committed to remove the cap on the financial compensation that accident victims may receive.

For more information on New Democratic policies and priorities:

Party Leader: Darrel Dexter

Darrel Dexter grew up in Milton, Nova Scotia. He holds a degree in journalism from the University of King’s College. He also holds degrees in education and law from Dalhousie University. Prior to entering politics he was a submarine lieutenant in the Canadian Navy, and then a practicing lawyer.

Dexter first entered politics in 1994 when he was elected to the Dartmouth city council. He was first elected to the provincial legislature in 1998, becoming the New Democratic MLA for the riding of Darthmouth-Cole Harbour. As an MLA, Dexter has served as the NDP critic for economic development and for health. He was elected as party leader in June 2001, replacing Helen MacDonald.

Dexter is married to Kelly Wilson. Together they have one son.

For more information on Darrell Dexter:


Liberal Party of Nova Scotia

Party history, election platform & leader

Party History

The Liberal Party of Nova Scotia is a centrist political party. The Party is descended from the pre-Confederation Reformers in Nova Scotia who fought for democratic reform in the colony and the introduction of responsible government. Prior to 1956, the Liberals were the dominant political party in Nova Scotia; between 1867 and 1956 the Liberals governed for a total of 76 years. Since that time, however, the Party only formed the government for select periods in the 1970s and 90s.

2006 Election Platform

Key components of the Liberal Party’s 2006 election platform included:

  • Debt: The introduction of several commitments intended to continue reducing provincial debt, including guaranteeing a minimum debt repayment of $70 million per year, and a commitment to automatically direct government surpluses to debt reduction.
  • Taxation: Several reforms to reduce the tax burden on Nova Scotians, including increasing the Basic Personal Exemption tax credit, indexing tax credits to account for inflation, increasing deductions for families with children, and a commitment to review the feasibility of reducing the tax rate for middle-income earners from 14.5 percent to 12 percent.
  • Good Government: The introduction of new guidelines to make government more transparent and accountable, including a protocol to identify instances of conflict of interest as well as more stringent review and reporting measures for government loans and contracts valued at over $250,000.
  • Post-Secondary Education: Assistance for post-secondary students and institutions, including financial assistance to university and college students to offset high tuition costs, the provision of tax credits to post-secondary graduates who remain in Nova Scotia to work after graduation, and an investment of $70 million over four years for university infrastructure.
  • Social Assistance: A commitment to increase funding in several social areas, including child care, seniors care, and affordable housing for low-income individuals and families.
  • Environment: A promise to offer up to $2,000 in rebates to Nova Scotia residents for the purchase of fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles, a commitment to increase provincial wildlife and park reserves, and initiatives to combat acid rain and encourage the development and use of renewable energy sources.
  • Home heating: The Liberals have rejected Conservative and NDP proposals to reduce the provincial sales tax on home heating on the grounds that it will encourage consumption and hurt the environment overall.

For more information on the Liberal’s 2006 Election Platform:

Party Leader: Francis MacKenzie

Francis MacKenzie was born in 1960 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and grew up in Sydney, Nova Scotia. He holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master’s of Business Administration from Saint Mary’s University. Prior to entering politics MacKenzie served in several administrative positions; he was the executive director of the Town of Bedford’s Economic Development Commission, the general manager of the Greater Halifax Partnership, and the executive director of investment and trade for the Nova Scotia Department of Economic Development.

MacKenzie first entered politics in 2002 when he ran for the leadership of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, but was defeated by Danny Graham. In 2004, after Graham stepped down as leader, MacKenzie was successful in his bid to become the Party’s new leader. The 2006 election marked his first election contest, both for a seat in the House of Assembly and also in his bid to become Premier.

MacKenzie and his wife Gladys have four children.


Green Party of Nova Scotia

Party history, election platform & leader

Party History

The Green Party of Nova Scotia is a fiscally conservative and socially progressive political party with a strong focus on environmental issues. Founded in 2006, the Party planned to run a candidate in all Nova Scotia ridings in the 2006 provincial election.

Party Leader: Nick Wright

Nick Wright was born in Toronto, Ontario. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is currently a student in the joint Law/Business program at Dalhousie University.

Wright first entered politics in the 2006 federal general election, when he ran for the Green Party of Canada in the riding of Halifax. He received 3.9 perceived of the total popular vote, losing to former New Democratic leader Alexa McDonough. He was elected leader of the provincial Nova Scotia Green Party in March 2006, at the Party’s founding convention.

For more information on Nick Wright:


2006 Election News & Issues

Key election news, issues & debates

Minority or Majority Government

In the 2003 general election, the Progressive Conservatives were reduced from a majority to a minority government, with only 25 of 52 seats in the provincial legislative assembly. As a minority government, they were forced to win over the support of at least one of the opposition parties in order to pass legislation (the government needs the support of a majority of MLAs in the House of Assembly to govern). In 2004, the Progressive Conservatives gained the NDP’s support by agreeing to cover the full health costs of seniors in long-term care, a major NDP priority. In 2005, the Progressive Conservatives again struck deals with both opposition parties to maintain governing status.

As the Progressive Conservatives were again elected as a minority government, they will be forced to continue working with other political parties in the Legislature to ensure they can pass legislation and govern. For some observers, such a result is ideal, as it requires the parties in the Legislature to cooperate and compromise on key issues, as in the past. Others, however, regard minority governments as inefficient and highly unstable.

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of minority governments in Canada:

Controversial Government Loans

An important issue in the 2006 general election centred on two loans given by the Progressive Conservative government prior to Premier John Hamm’s retirement in 2005: the Hamm government approved a $350,000 loan to Magic Valley amusement park, in addition to a $250,000 loan to S&J Potato Farms. Both loans were interest-free and only repayable under certain conditions.

It was later revealed that a close friend of then Premier Hamm owned Magic Farms, while S&L leased land from Ernie Fage, the Progressive Conservative Minister of Economic Development at the time. Fage eventually resigned his cabinet post, asserting that while he had received no personal benefit from the loan, he had, nevertheless been in a conflict of interest. A legislative committee later launched an investigation into the Cabinet’s handling of the two loans, but had not yet finished its work when the election was called in May 2006.

The Liberal Party has been especially critical of the Progressive Conservatives on this issue. One of its key 2006 election platforms was to introduce new practices pertaining to government handling of business loans and grants; proposed measures include new conflict of interest rules, as well as new procedures for reviewing loans over $250,000.

Home Heating Costs

Another controversial issue in the election focused on what to do about steep rises in provincial home heating costs. Both the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP promised to eliminate provincial sales taxes on home heating as a means of reducing costs for families. The potential savings would be eight percent on home heating bills for Nova Scotia residents. The NDP, however, accused the Progressive Conservatives of co-opting the idea, arguing their Party was first to announce this proposed initiative.

The Liberals, meanwhile, rejected the idea altogether, arguing it works against the objective of reducing energy consumption. The Liberals contended the tax cut would only encourage homeowners to consume more heating fuels and would dissuade Nova Scotians from making investments in their homes that would result in more efficient energy consumption.

To this end, all three political parties promised tax credits for homeowners and small businesses that purchase goods and technologies for making their homes or place of business more energy efficient.

Cost of Party Promises

As in most elections, there are charges by each political party that the financial promises made by the others do not add up. There was a particular focus on the Progressive Conservatives, who unveiled their election promises in a booklet called A Plan for a Stronger Nova Scotia. In that booklet, the Party outlined its spending initiatives, which it stated would cost the Nova Scotia approximately $670 million.

The Liberals and NDP, however, were highly critical of the document, stating that it did not include the many spending promises the Progressive Conservative government committed to in their 2006 provincial budget, which was introduced just days before the election call. The other parties alleged that the Progressive Conservatives were not being forthright about the true costs of their election promises. The PCs responded by publicly clarifying that the plan included new initiatives in addition to its 2006-07 budget commitments.

At the same time there were also some concerns about the NDP’s election promises, which included substantial increases in spending in the areas of health and education, as well as a pledge to eliminate the provincial sales tax on home heating. While the NDP stated it would continue to balance the budget, critics suggested it was not clear that Nova Scotia’s fiscal picture could accommodate them.


2006 Nova Scotia Election Results

Progressive Conservatives win another minority government

In the 2006 general election, the provincial Progressive Conservatives won a minority government, with PC leader Rodney MacDonald retaining his Premiership. The Progressive Conservatives, however, dropped two seats to a total 23. Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party, helmed by Darrell Dexter, increased thier seat total from 15 to 20. The Liberal Party also saw a loss of seats, dropping from 12 in the previous election to nine seats.

The Progressive Conservatives also won a narrow margin in the popular vote, receiving just under 40 percent of the votes. The NDP won just under 35 percent, while the Liberals garnered just over 23 percent.


Find out more about the 2006 Nova Scotia election

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