How to cast a strategic vote in Nova Scotia

I don’t usually repeat posts, but this election is important, so for any who missed it, here is Contrarian’s Guide to Strategic Voting in Nova Scotia.

In the latest Angus Reid poll, 49 percent of Liberal voters and 36 percent of NDP voters expressed a willingness to consider voting for a candidate other than their true preferences, in order to “avoid a specific outcome.”

If you are one of those Liberal, New Democratic, or erstwhile Progressive Conservative voters, and you want to avoid the specific outcome of a certain authoritarian demagogue getting unfettered control of the House of Commons, you may be wondering how to vote Monday. This guide is for you.

Contrarian’s Guide to Strategic Voting in Nova Scotia

With three-way races and a still dynamic vote swing underway, this is a hard election to predict. Seven of Nova Scotia’s 11 federal ridings appear to be in play — an unusually large number.

Two of these — Halifax West and Dartmouth—Cole Harbour — appear to be tight contests between Liberal incumbents* and NDP challengers. They will not affect the size or strength of the Harper caucus, so vote your personal preference in those races.

Five are tight contests where the Harper candidate could win, or could fall to a New Democrat or a Liberal.
Central Nova
Peter MacKay faces a tough challenge from high school physics teacher and former Pictou town councillor David Parker, brother of MLA Charlie Parker and a shrewd electoral tactician in his own right.

MacKay has committed many unprincipled acts in his political career, but the alacrity with which he took on the task of vilifying whistleblower Richard Colvin was surely a nadir. Colvin is a genuine Canadian hero, a civil servant who put aside his own career interests to expose Canada’s complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. As a civil servant, he could only remain mute in the face of MacKay’s character assassination (although opposition members of the Commons did eventually call him back for a lone round of dignified rebuttal testimony). For this alone, seeing MacKay go down would be altogether sweet. Vote NDP.

South Shore—St. Margaret’s

This is a tight race between incumbent Harper guy Gerald Keddy and former New Democrat MP Gordon Earle, with another former MP, Liberal Derek Wells, well behind. Liberals and Greens should vote NDP.


For months, Cecil Clarke has mounted an energetic campaign against nice guy farmer MP Mark Eyking. The NDP usually run second in this riding, but Kathy MacLeod, their candidate this time, is weak. The orange tide may boost her vote, however, and it’s hard to say which potential winner she will hurt the most. This race is much tighter than national pundits realize. In particular, the strategic voting site Project Democracy has mistakenly declared it a safe Liberal seat. Vote Liberal.

West Nova

This riding constantly swings back and forth between the Liberals and the Conservatives. Incumbent Harper guy and former Buchanan cabinet minister Greg Kerr faces a stiff challenge from former Liberal MP Robert Thibault. Vote Liberal.


Steven Harper visited this riding Saturday to shore up support for defeated provincial cabinet minister David Morse, his candidate to replace Liberal Scott Brison, a floor crosser who fled the CPC. New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives (real conservatives) should Vote Liberal

Four ridings are not in play. Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, sadly, will stay in Harper’s camp. Cape Breton—Canso is safe for Liberal Rodger Cuzner, and both Sackville—Eastern Shore and Halifax are safe for NDP incumbents Peter Stoffer and Megan Leslie. The latter was thought to be in trouble early in the campaign, but the Liberal collapse ended that threat.

* A few parliamentary purists, including our old friend Ian McNeil, object to the term “incumbent” in Canadian elections, because once the writ is dropped, former office-holders are no longer MPs. It is (or for years, was) CBC style not to use the word. I regard this as silly unnecessarily fussy. Everyone understands the term to mean, “seat-holder at dissolution.”