Frank Corbett was perhaps exaggerating a bit when he called Darrell Dexter the best premier this province has ever had.
Mind you, such an assessment could be forgiven, since the NDP member of the legislature offered it at a tribute to the former leader and premier held on the weekend at the party’s annual general meeting. So non-members can imagine it would have been the typical love-in atmosphere of political party functions.
Thus, outsiders might find “best” questionable. Some – because Dexter’s tenure is fairly recent – might venture to say “worst.” But applying a degree of objectivity and fairness, a lot would realize he was far from the worst, considering that the economic challenges faced by the one-time NDP government in this province seriously swamped them.
He accomplished much, but in the end too many people remembered the bailouts to companies.
The decline in favour for Dexter and the NDP between their majority win in 2009 and palpable loss in 2013 offers a good case study in voter expectations when they head to the polls. When it’s time to rout a party, as voters did to Rodney MacDonald’s Conservatives in 2009, they can do it with a vengeance, all the while pinning a lot of hope on the new pick.
The party and premier in power now would do well to reflect on that pattern. If the challenges mount over the next four years – and depending on the political cards they’re dealt – they could be facing the same kind of voter wrath.
One lasting legacy in that historic NDP win is that the province has three realistic choices in political parties.
The prospect that the Conservatives under leader Jamie Baillie can simply sit and bide their time with the assumption that it’s their turn next if the Liberals bomb isn’t a comforting one.
Depending on whether the NDP can continue to attract good talent in its candidates, future elections won’t simply be a slam dunk for one of the two parties Nova Scotians alternated between over the decades.