© Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News
Candidate signs are popping up on many lawns within the Town of Truro these days, after the election was called on Sept. 7. Voters will go to the polls on Oct. 8.
Will status quo be maintained on Oct. 8?
By Carl Fleming
TRURO – Voting trends in Colchester County changed dramatically in the 2009 provincial election.
And, not surprisingly, much of that change benefitted the New Democratic Party, which elected two MLAs – actress Lenore Zann and ordained minister and educator Gary Burrell – in this area for the first time in its history.
In Truro-Bible Hill, Zann broke through in dramatic fashion with 4,147 votes, an amount that nearly equaled the other three candidates combined.
The winds of change were evident even before election night but the one-sided result was striking considering the riding had long been a Tory stronghold with eight Progressive Conservative wins in the previous nine elections, including the previous four by cabinet minister Jamie Muir.
Longtime Truro town councilor and lawyer Charles Cox will try to win back the seat for the PCs when the next election takes place on Oct. 8. Political newcomer and former RCMP officer Barry Mellish is carrying the banner for the Liberals who have finished a distant third in three of the last four elections.
In Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Burrell also rode the NDP wave into the rural areas of the province, landing an impressive 1,417 more votes than his nearest rival, PC candidate Steve Stretch.
It was another stunning breakthrough as the riding had been solidly in the PC camp since its creation in 1993 when Ken Stretch, Steve’s father, won. Brooke Taylor picked up the baton from Stretch in 1998 and scored one-sided victories in 1999, 2003 and 2006.
Two political newcomers – longtime church minister Larry Harrison (PC) and businessman Tom Martin (Liberal) – are looking to defeat Burrill this time around.
Colchester North, meanwhile, offers an intriguing situation with former PC cabinet minister Karen Casey attempting to win a third term, only this time as a Liberal.
Casey crossed the floor in 2011, a year-and-a-half after easily surviving the decimation of the governing PC Party in much of the rest of the province.
The question now is how many of those voters will make the switch along with her. PC candidates, after all, have carried the riding in the last four elections while the Liberals were a distant third in 2009.
The Tories went to work early by naming their candidate – air force veteran and lawyer John K. MacDonald – over a year ago.
Jim Wyatt, another ex-military man, was nominated by the NDP earlier this summer.
The three area incumbents enter the campaign with the usual advantages – experience and name recognition in particular – and the possible disadvantge of voter disgruntlement with the status quo.
Time will tell whether next month's results prove as dramatic and decisive as those that produced so much change in 2009.
Gary Burrell, NDP – 3,568
Steve Stretch, PC – 2,151
Willy Versteeg, Lib – 1,529
Margaret Witney, Grn – 172
x – Karen Casey, PC – 3,784
Arthur Hartlen, NDP – 2,354
Lorenda Ebbett, Lib – 1,243
Judy Davis, Grn – 163
Lenore Zann, NDP – 4,147
Hughie MacIsaac, PC – 2,607
Bob Hagell, Lib – 1,651
Kaleigh Brinkhurst, Grn – 164