They may have lost an MLA, but the Tories were clearly on cloud nine yesterday after two provincnial byelections Tuesday.

 

With the Tories getting dealt a serious blow in the June election and the NDP still riding high, many observers predicted the Progressive Conservatives to be ousted in both the Antigonish and Inverness votes.

 

Instead they showed signs of life. Tory Allan MacMaster won Inverness and the party finished a respectable second in Antigonish.

 

“We’re very happy,” interim Tory Leader Karen Casey said yesterday.

“As I’ve said before, for 35 of the last 50 years the PC party has formed government in Nova Scotia and we will again.”

The byelections were called after former Premier Rodney MacDonald and former Deputy Premier Angus MacIsaac announced their resignations shortly after the election.

Losing Antigonish does drop the Tories down to nine members and will cost them about $40,000 per year in public financing.

The NDP were also in high spirits after their candidate Maurice Smith picked up a riding in Antigonish that they had never held before.

“It’s always thrilling when you win a seat you haven’t won before,” said Premier Darrell Dexter.

Smith said yesterday the last-minute aversion of an NSCC teacher strike helped his chances.

The Liberals, however, saw their high expectations met with disappointment. Highly touted candidate Ian McNeil had been sought after by all parties and the Liberals felt they had a strong chance to take Inverness. They led by 14 votes going into the final poll only to ultimately lose by 50.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil has a leadership review scheduled in the new year and yesterday had the unpleasant task of fielding questions about his future, saying he didn’t think the byelections would be a factor and that he’s received nothing but support from his party.