A brief look ahead at the Sackville-Cobequid byelection

Apart from an investigation into alleged campaign violations, the byelection campaign in Sackville-Cobequid has been a fairly humdrum affair.

Still, the race to replace longtime MLA Dave Wilson, who resigned late last year to pursue other opportunities, is an important political yardstick more than two years into the current provincial mandate.

The New Democrats first won Sackville-Cobequid in 1984 and have held it comfortably ever since. Maintaining this seat is imperative for the NDP, particularly in the wake of Lenore Zann’s decision to sit as an independent and seek a federal Liberal nomination. The task of keeping the district orange has fallen to political novice Lara Fawthrop, a teacher and self-described community builder.

The PCs have a new leader in Tim Houston and a local candidate who is well-known in the community. Steve Craig is a two-term municipal councillor for the area and was the second-place finisher in Sackville-Cobequid in 2006. Whether Craig’s high profile is enough to break the NDP’s 35-year grip on the district remains to be seen.

Michel Hindlet, candidate for the governing Liberals, will be hard-pressed to match his own second-place finish in the 2017 general election. Recent polls show Premier Stephen McNeil and his government have lost considerable support across the province. The party placed second in Sackville-Cobequid the last three general elections, but can be expected to finish third (or possibly even fourth) this time around.

Advance voting numbers have been impressive, with nearly 2,500 people casting ballots as of yesterday. In the 2017 general election, ballots were cast by 7,876 of 15,457 eligible voters in Sackville-Cobequid — a paltry turnout of 50.95 per cent.

Also running in the June 18 byelection are Anthony Edmonds of the Green Party and David F. Boyd of the Atlantica Party.

The Nova Scotia Greens, like their counterparts across the country, are enjoying an unprecedented surge in popularity. A recent poll by Narrative Research shows the provincial party went from 3 per cent support in May 2018 to 13 per cent in May 2019. Don’t be surprised if the Greens give the Liberals a run for their money in the battle for third place.

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