Stephen McNeil says 'balanced' platform led Liberals to victory in N.S.
Published Wednesday, October 9, 2013 8:42AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 9, 2013 5:58PM EDT
Nova Scotia’s premier-designate Stephen McNeil says his party’s efforts to reach out to voters with a “balanced” platform helped lead the Liberals to victory for the first time in 14 years.
“I’m feeling fantastic,” McNeil told CTV’s Canada AM Wednesday after celebrating the Liberals’ return to power with a majority government.
“It’s a real privilege to be given the opportunity to be the premier of this province.”
The governing New Democrats were relegated to third-party status and outgoing Premier Darrell Dexter was unable to hold on to his Halifax-area seat. A massive deficit and a harmonized sales tax hike were among the problems highlighted by voters who said they wanted change.
McNeil, 48, said his campaign took the time to reach out to Nova Scotians and present a “balanced, thoughtful platform” that included investments in education and a promise to bring electricity rates under control.
The Liberals also promised smaller classroom sizes and a reduction in health care administration costs. They did not offer big spending initiatives and McNeil has said that he will be prudent when it comes to cutting the HST, for instance.
“I think people appreciated that I wasn’t prepared to tell them something just to get their vote,” he told Canada AM.
“When voters went to the polls they saw a combination of a platform that reflected who they were and they also saw a group of candidates they felt could govern this province.”
McNeil grew up in his rural Annapolis Valley riding as one of 17 children. His late mother, a widow, became the high sheriff of Annapolis County at a time when no other woman held a similar position in Canada.
McNeil, who is married with two grown children, has often spoken about her and his big family.
McNeil attended community college and owned an appliance repair shop before entering politics. He has said that he regrets not going to university, but believes that his experiences as a business owner and the leader of Nova Scotia’s Liberal Party have prepared him to govern the province.
After one failed attempted in 1999, McNeil was elected to the legislature in 2003. He won re-election in 2006 and became Liberal leader a year later.
Dexter, who became Nova Scotia’s first NDP premier in 2009, was apologetic after his defeat Tuesday night.
"Nova Scotians made a historic choice four years ago when they elected the NDP. I was humbled by the challenges and the opportunities that we faced,” he said.
“We New Democrats had been conscientious critics, but Nova Scotians had never before put us to the test. Nova Scotians, I know that we didn't meet every expectation."
The Progressive Conservatives, led by Jamie Baillie, will now form the Official Opposition.
With files from The Canadian Press