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Progressive Conservatives easily retain Pictou West in Nova Scotia byelection

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PICTOU, N.S. -

Nova Scotia's governing Progressive Conservatives easily retained the riding of Pictou West in a byelection held Tuesday, with first-time Tory candidate Marco MacLeod receiving more than four times the votes of his next-closest competitor.

Unofficial results released by Elections Nova Scotia on Tuesday night gave MacLeod, who runs a small custom lumber mill on his family farm, 4,159 votes, placing him far ahead of NDP candidate Melinda MacKenzie, a school teacher and a member of Pictou town council, who placed second with 949 votes.

"Thank you, Pictou West for trusting me to be your MLA. I will be a strong voice for you at the government decision making table," MacLeod posted on Facebook late Tuesday.

Liberal Mary Wooldridge-Elliott, a school bus driver and member of Pictou County council who finished a distant second in the riding in the 2021 provincial election, came third with 548 votes.

Clare Brett, a singer-songwriter and caregiver who also ran in 2021 for the Green Party of Nova Scotia, trailed in fourth with 82 votes.

The byelection became necessary with the sudden retirement early last month of the legislature's speaker, Karla MacFarlane, who had held the riding since 2013.

Premier Tim Houston, who represents the neighbouring riding of Pictou East, called the byelection soon after MacFarlane announced her retirement, despite having up to six months to do so.

"Welcome to the team," Houston said in a Facebook post that congratulated MacLeod.

With the win, the Tories hold 33 seats in the 55-seat legislature, while the Liberals have 15, the NDP has six seats and there is one Independent.

In an interview last week MacLeod said he was conscious of the need to establish his own presence despite his party's perceived strength in the electoral district.

MacFarlane easily won the seat for the Progressive Conservatives in the 2021 general election with nearly 64 per cent of the vote, but the riding that includes the town of Pictou had gone to the NDP for a decade before MacFarlane's election.

The state of the province's health-care system and the cost of living were among the main issues raised by voters during the campaign.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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