Cablegate: Nova Scotia Provincial Elections: Tories Left with A

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
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.

© Scoop Media

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