HALIFAX - The first full day of campaigning in the provincial election kicked off with all three party leaders declaring themselves the underdog in the race.
“Absolutely, but that’s nothing different for New Democrats,” said Premier Darrell Dexter during a campaign event Sunday morning at the Italian Canadian Cultural Association. “We’ve been underdogs in almost every campaign we’ve ever been in, so we’re used to that position.”
A poll released last week by Corporate Research Associates suggests the Liberals are leading the NDP by 10 per cent among decided voters – but Liberal party leader Stephen McNeil said he’s not the front runner.
“Government always has the upper hand….they’ve been out there promoting themselves using taxpayer dollars over the last number of months,” he said during an announcement in Dartmouth Sunday afternoon. “I’m going to continue to…talk to Nova Scotians, continue to lay out ideas that we think are in the best interests of Nova Scotians.”
Jamie Baillie, whose Tories trail the other two parties in the polls, said he’s relishing the role of underdog in his first provincial election campaign.
“As people are getting to know, I used to run the credit union and we would compete against Canada’s banks every day and win,” he said. “I enjoyed that, and I have the same feeling about this race, and I’m enjoying it already.”
All three party leaders brought up power rates and the provincial economy during campaign events on Sunday, touting plans to manage one and improve the other.
Both the NDP and PCs issued news releases attacking each other and the Liberals, apparently setting the stage for four weeks of attacks on the Grits.
Dexter said that negative strategies such as attack ads are necessary to help voters distinguish between the three parties.
“People need to know what the difference is between the approach that we take and the approach that the Liberals and the Conservatives take,” he said. “Those kinds of ads are hard-edged, but they’re there for a reason. It’s becuase there are substantial differences.”
At the time of dissolution, the NDP held 31 seats in the legislature, the Liberals 12 and the Progressive Conservatives 7. Two seats were vacant.