Antigonish and Inverness (Nova Scotia) by-elections 2009
Two provincial by-elections were held in two Nova Scotian provincial constituencies on October 20, 2009. The constituency of Antigonish is located in north-eastern mainland Nova Scotia, centered around the university town of Antigonish (St. FX University), which is considerably progressive (as expected) – it was the only Nova Scotia town won by the Greenies (Elizabeth May, in this case) in the 2008 federal election. However, the surrounding area is much more Conservative federally, though the provincial riding was a rather Liberal seat until 1999. The seat, which seems to be rather Scottish (judging by names), was held by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Progressive Conservative (PC) government of Rodney MacDonald, Angus MacIsaac.
The other seat, Inverness, on western Cape Breton Island, was held by his boss, PC Premier Rodney MacDonald, defeated in 2009 by the NDP. A largely Catholic seat, it is Liberal federally and used to be a Liberal areas provincially, though that Catholic Liberal base was rather destroyed by MacDonald’s Catholic appeal.
The NDP government of Nova Scotia, elected in June, is still in it’s honeymoon period and actively targeted the seat of Antigonish, won by MacIsaac by only 295 in the 2009 election.
Maurice Smith (NDP) 41.02% (+5.84%)
Darren Thompson (PC) 35.38% (-2.70%)
Miles Tompkins (Liberal) 22.68% (-2.38%)
Michael Marshall (Green) 0.92% (-0.77%)
Allan MacMaster (PC) 35.75% (-20.30%)
Ian McNeil (Liberal) 35.18% (+15.29%)
Bert Lewis (NDP) 26.54% (+5.66%)
Nathalie Arsenault (Green) 2.53% (-1.00%)
The main winner is, of course, the NDP, which has gained votes in both seats, in addition to picking up Antigonish. The Liberal situation is more unclear, their vote was probably squished by the NDP effort in Antigonish but went up in Inverness, where the PC vote fell drastically with Rodney MacDonald gone. Inverness is also a traditionally Catholic Liberal area, so it might mean that the Liberals could be picking up a bit of the Catholic vote which MacDonald had won for the PC in 2006 or so. The clear loser is the PC, which lost votes in both seats and lost Antigonish. In addition, the Greenies had a bad night, but they’re irrelevant. However, these kind of things happen often in by-elections held a few months after the election of a new government: the Liberals picked up the seats of defeated Conservative premiers Bernard Lord and Pat Binns in New Brunswick and PEI respectively in by-elections held shortly after the Liberal Party’s victories.