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Nova Scotia poised to elect NDP government?

New Democrats are poised to make a historic breakthrough in Nova Scotia next year, according to a Canadian Press report published today:

HALIFAX, N.S. — In a region that has proven a wasteland for New Democrats in provincial politics, Nova Scotia's NDP is a prime contender in 2009 when an election seems a certainty.

The province's Official Opposition holds 20 of the 52 seats in the minority legislature and is looking to make a historic breakthrough as Atlantic Canada's first NDP government.

With the governing Conservatives holding 22 seats, the New Democrats need to turn just a handful of ridings to take power.

That puts the party far ahead of its cousins in other parts of Atlantic Canada, where the NDP has had few successes in provincial politics.

It's indicative of a history that has seen the NDP never elect more than two members at one time in Newfoundland and Labrador, while never more than one seat at a time in the New Brunswick legislature. Herb Dickieson is the only New Democrat to be elected to the Prince Edward Island legislature.

The CP dispatch, reported by Keith Doucette, cites several possible reasons for the NDP gains, including the collapse of the Liberal party after 1998, and how the Nova Scotia NDP has capitalized on trends that have seen support grow in urban areas.

Add to that list the simple fact that the party has never held government in Atlantic Canada, so there are no fast ferry fiascos to haunt them.

As B.C. prepares to debate its growing fleet of parked ferries – both fast and fuel-hogging German – I'm left wondering: What is the Nova Scotia NDP doing that the B.C. NDP isn't?

Questions for Tyee commenters: What do you know about the Nova Scotia NDP? What lessons might B.C. New Democrats glean from the party's apparent success on that little ocean to the east?

Monte Paulsen covers politics for The

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