US embassy cable - 03HALIFAX238

Nova Scotia Provincial Elections: Tories Left with a Minority Government

Identifier: 03HALIFAX238
Wikileaks: View 03HALIFAX238 at
Origin: Consulate Halifax
Created: 2003-08-08 13:08:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PGOV Elections Conservative Party
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, Elections, Conservative Party 
SUBJECT: Nova Scotia Provincial Elections:  Tories Left with a 
Minority Government 
2. (SBU)  Summary:  Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm will serve 
another term in office following this week's provincial 
elections, but he will do so as head of a minority government. 
Hamm's Progressive Conservative Party lost seats to both the New 
Democratic Party (NDP) and the Liberals, leaving it unable to 
govern with a majority.   Premier Hamm must now scramble to form 
a compromise arrangement with his political foes in order to 
bring some stability to his government.  There are no 
significant implications for the U.S. in this situation, as all 
three parties attach importance to U.S. trade, to the offshore 
energy sector, and to working with us on secure border issues. 
3. (SBU)  Nova Scotia Premier John Hamm and his Progressive 
Conservative Party won a re-election bid on August 5, but voter 
discontent has left them clinging to power.  The second-place 
New Democrats and third-place Liberals made enough gains at the 
expense of the Tories that their combined seats outnumber the 
governing party.  The results (with previous standings in 
parenthesis) were as follows: Progressive Conservatives 25 (31), 
New Democrats 15 (11), and Liberals 12 (10).  Looking at the 
popular vote, the Conservatives took 36.3 percent, down 
approximately 3 percent from their 1999 performance, the 
Liberals 31.4 percent, and the NDP 31.0.  The campaign was a 
tough fight for all three parties, focusing on local 
voter-sensitive issues as health care, high insurance costs and 
fiscal responsibility. 
4.  (SBU)  The immediate challenge for the Hamm government will 
be to work with official opposition leader Darrel Dexter of the 
NDP and Liberal leader Danny Graham to negotiate stable, 
functional arrangements for a minority government.  Although the 
Premier has ruled out naming members of the opposition parties 
to any of his cabinet portfolios, he will nonetheless have to 
work out compromises with those parties in order to get 
legislation through the Assembly. 
5.  (SBU)  Although this election yielded no big winners, it 
does represent significant advancement for the New Democrats. 
Over the last three provincial elections in Nova Scotia, the NDP 
has moved from the role of marginal player on the edge of the 
political stage to a position of influence in the spotlight. 
Party strategists are already assessing what impact these 
provincial gains will have on the party's chances in the next 
federal election campaign.  The NDP currently holds four of the 
Atlantic region's 32 seats in the House of Commons, and the 
August 5 results will boost the party's stature among the 
electorate.  NDP leader Dexter's immediate challenge will be 
judging how far he can go in keeping his commitment to cooperate 
with the Conservative Hamm government, without selling out his 
leftist base. 
6.  (SBU)  All three of the major Nova Scotia political parties 
attach importance to U.S. trade, to the offshore energy sector, 
and to working with us on a secure border.  None has expressed 
any grievance or taken issue with the United States in any 
particular area.  Foreign involvement in the offshore energy 
sector was not even mentioned on the campaign trail, and NDP 
leader Dexter has made it clear he has no particular ax to grind 
on that subject.  A minority Hamm government is therefore 
unlikely to have a different impact on areas of concern to the 
USG than did the majority Hamm government.  END COMMENT. 

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