Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Campaign Could Get Rough after Rancour in Legislature: Experts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Campaign Could Get Rough after Rancour in Legislature: Experts

Article excerpt

Nova Scotia campaign could get rough: experts

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HALIFAX - Even before Nova Scotia's election campaign began, Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil had a target on him.

The acknowledged front-runner, McNeil has been the subject of ads by the governing New Democrats over the summer that cast doubt on his ability to lead the province.

A video on YouTube labelled McNeil as "not worth the risk" while highlighting several verbal gaffes and contradictions. That video followed a television attack ad that ran in the spring that showed McNeil's face fading to black as a large question mark emerged from the background.

After a rough and rancorous spring legislative session, some political observers think this could be a sign of things to come as the incumbent New Democrats fight for their political life.

Factor in the potential effects of new media platforms such as Twitter and the fact all three leaders have something at stake in the outcome, then the recipe is in place for a negative campaign, said Lori Turnbull, a political scientist at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

"I think because there is not a huge ideological difference between the three parties the campaign will get pretty negative," said Turnbull.

She said she expects that negativity to spill over at the leadership level as opposed to individual ridings, where local issues tend to be the main focus.

Turnbull believes that's partly because McNeil, Premier Darrell Dexter of the New Democrats, and Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie are "up against it" as the campaign kicks off.

"They are all at a point where they are going to have to do something impressive or their parties are going to have to be talking about somebody else," Turnbull said.

Jeff MacLeod of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax agrees that at the very least, Dexter and McNeil could be in their party's crosshairs after Oct. 8.

"I think the two main leaders, McNeil and Dexter, have their jobs on the line, frankly, depending of course on the outcome," said MacLeod.

He said there's also a scenario where first time campaigner Baillie could be in trouble.

"If he's seen as doing a poor job or has a poor performance in this campaign then even his job could be in jeopardy. …

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