Do boots on the ground equal votes in the hand?


Time flies when you’re having fun. Ask Darrell Dexter. Next month, he will celebrate his second anniversary as the province’s first ever NDP premier. In two years—probably less—he will try to become Nova Scotia’s NDP premier to win a second majority government… or, perhaps, settle for a minority… or, failing one of the above—and politics being politics—not be Ignatieffed in his own riding.

His fate then may well depend on what happens in Ottawa today.

Today, Dexter leads a high-level, high-profile delegation of business and government leaders to Toryland. Their goal: to browbeat, sweet-talk, cajole Stephen Harper’s newly re-elected, no-reason-to-like-Nova-Scotia majority government into spreading some largesse our way.

The stakes are billions of dollars high.

Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding, for example, wants a sweet piece of the navy’s upcoming $35-billion shipbuilding program. At a “Ships Start Here” kick-off pep rally Friday, Dexter touted consultants’ reports claiming the project could generate 11,500 spin-off jobs and inject $800 million a year into the provincial economy.

“Winning this bid,” Dexter declared, “would equate to hosting the Olympics each year for 30 years.”

And then, of course, there’s the Lower Churchill, a $6.2-billion Newfoundland-Nova Scotia power generating and transmission project Dexter has grandly called “our Canadian Pacific Railway.” Dexter is fond of metaphor and simile.

If Lower Churchill happens—and Stephen Harper promised to make it happen during the federal campaign—Nova Scotia workers would be in line for a chunk of its 45,000 person-years worth of work. And the Lower Churchill itself would become a stable source of forever energy for Nova Scotians—and for future industrial development.

While Dexter will remind Ottawa of the prime minister’s Lower Churchill pledge, he’ll stickhandle more delicately past Harper’s seeming reluctance to cough up $47 million finance Halifax’s infamous downtown convention centre. Please!

And, among those many other supplications, Dexter will also pitch yet another provincial capital project: a new stadium.

If Dexter can convince Ottawa to fund any or all of the above, it will mean construction boots on the ground in time for the next provincial election.

Which could make Dexter’s hopes for re-election more likely.

Which, of course, is the idea.


  1. I’ve never understood why journalists say there will an election “in two years – probably less.” This is Canada. Parties with majorities can govern for 5 years. Why would Dexter govern for just 3.5? And why are journalists so certain he would?


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