Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sean Fraser easily holds Central Nova

Third consecutive electoral win for Liberal incumbent

  • September 22 2021
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    

NEW GLASGOW – Sean Fraser was an infant when Starship released its 1985 hit We Built This City, but the pop anthem-turned-campaign song played here Monday night as the 37-year-old husband, father and Member of Parliament greeted supporters, whose tweets, texts and messages often described him in one word: “Rockstar.”

After a 36-day campaign, Liberal incumbent Fraser held his federal riding of Central Nova with 17,984 ballots (46 per cent of the vote) over nearest rival, Conservative candidate Steven Cotter (12,706 ballots; 32 per cent), making him the first Liberal to win the historically Conservative constituency in three consecutive national elections.

Betsy MacDonald of the New Democratic Party earned 6,107 votes (16 per cent); Al Muir of the People’s Party of Canada garnered 1,426 votes (four per cent); and Katerina Nikas of the Green Party of Canada received 473 votes (one per cent).

Fraser’s election-night message to supporters was clear: local focus and national vision is a recipe that works.

“I’m telling you, folks, local representation matters,” he told his audience after the Central Nova result was clear. “We can do more and more for the rural communities who for so long and felt neglected by government after government and representative after representative who doesn’t necessarily make time to get out to the further reaches of the riding. Now, we’ve got multimillion-dollar projects that are putting people to work in rural communities.”

As for his party’s national agenda, he said: “There are incredible policies that have gone forward over the past couple of years. We raised taxes on the wealthiest one per cent of Canadians, so we could cut [taxes] for nine million middle-class families. We ended up stopping the practice of sending childcare checks to millionaires so we could put more money in the pockets of nine out of ten Canadian families … Today, 435,000 kids are no longer in poverty.”

In an interview with The Journal, Fraser added, “Local projects are always going to be a priority for me. This is the area that I come from. It’s where I’m raising my family. When I talk to people on the doorstep, they’re talking about the environment, they’re talking about creating jobs, making life more affordable. I want to make sure that we continue to pursue an agenda that’s going to help our community.”

At the same time, he said, “I want to make sure that the recovery is sustainable not just from an environmental point of view, but also from a public health point of view. People do want to see a strengthened healthcare system, and they do want to see a cleaner environment for green jobs in their community.”

Central Nova – which includes St. Mary’s and the Sheet Harbour area – is well known for punching above its weight in the high-stakes game of political notoriety.

Former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney won his seat here in 1983. More recently, it was the electoral home base for Conservative MP and cabinet minister Peter MacKay, who served four consecutive terms as its MP. Former Green Party Leader Elizabeth May once ran unsuccessfully for a seat here. So did Conservative hopeful and country music star George Canyon, who lost to Fraser in 2019.

Fraser, who was raised in Pictou County, was first elected as MP for Central Nova in 2015. He earned law degrees from Dalhousie University and from Leiden University in the Netherlands. Before entering politics, he practised commercial litigation and international dispute resolution.

Over the past six years, Fraser has served as parliamentary secretary to the deputy prime minister and minister of finance, the minister of middle-class prosperity and associate minister of finance, and to the minister of environment and climate change.

“There are certain elements we’ve learned throughout this pandemic that are extraordinarily important to people and, frankly, we were seeing it before this pandemic began,” he told The Journal. “They do want to see that the benefits of economic growth reach everyone in our community.”

He added: “I look forward to being a part of the team that’s going to help shape Canada’s economic recovery and build an economy that works for everybody, not just the wealthiest members of society. These are the kinds of things that I’m looking forward to contributing to as we get back to Ottawa.”

Nationally, prior to the election, the Liberals held 155 seats in the House of Commons; the Conservatives had 119; the Bloc Québécois, 32; the New Democrats, 24; and the Green Party, two. Independents held five seats.

At press time, Liberals were expected to form a minority government with about 158 seats. The Conservatives had 119; the Bloc, 34, the NDP, 25 and the Greens, two.