By the time Robert Stanfield left the premiership of Nova Scotia, he had achieved much.
For Stanfield, who brought the party from wilderness to government in 1948 and then four healthy majority governments thereafter, his only regret after leaving provincial politics, as he told (now) Senator Donald Oliver, was how he had not "worked more vigorously to promote equality of opportunity for the Black people of Nova Scotia and members of the First Nations" as Premier.
To compensate, upon taking the leadership of the federal (then) Progressive Conservatives, he advocated a slew of progressive ideas that helped Canada's minority population. He supported multicultural and immigration policies as well as the then-controversial official Ottawa bilingual policy despite strong opposition from his own caucus. Many in his party thought the policy was a waste of money and an unpopular policy among English Canadians but he held on his principle.
Since then, in fact starting from its British colony years in 1848 and onward (save the Charles Tupper and the Confederation Party years of 1864 to 1867), Nova Scotia was alternatively led by either the Liberals or Conservatives up until 2009. That year, Darrell Dexter led the NDP to a healthy majority with a list of 50 promises to be completed over in four years via a document titled "Better Deal 2009".
When Dexter won in 2009, he became the first NDP Premier from Atlantic Canada.
Last night, the party embraced its traditional role when it became the third party in the legislature with the least number of seats -- only seven. It also became the first provincial party to be denied re-election. Dexter even lost his own seat to Tony Ince, a little known black community activist mirroring what happened to Ontario's David Peterson himself as an MPP and his arrogant government in 1990. The Liberals managed to win 33 out of a possible 51 seats and the Tories went from 7 to 11.
Dexter accepted defeat by saying "tonight's result does not take away from what we have accomplished working together." Like Bob Rae's accidental NDP government in Ontario that was also soundly rejected by Ontarians in 1995 -- and later rejected by Liberal Bob Rae himself -- the NDP in Nova Scotia became a government that was arrogant and incompetent.
This was even truer when it came to justice and equality issues, especially in its treatment of children of African ancestry at a Dartmouth orphanage who have for years alleged sexual and physical abuse. The alleged victims, placed in an almost century old orphanage have been demanding a government inquiry in their pursuit of justice.
The NDP government denied their request neglecting them at second class citizenry and placing their priorities in the hands of a government appointed panel of friends. The panel was given very little power and no legal authority to subpoena witnesses. It was disheartening and disturbing at best.
The province went further and blocked any attempts to launch a class action lawsuit by the potential victims. This was done even when the current leadership of the orphanage endorsed a provincial inquiry into all allegations of child abuse by its ex-staff members.
For the (now) chair of the board, Sylvia Parris, of the orphanage, that is now a residential center, ""If anybody associated with the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children abused children while in our care, we hope and expect that they will be brought to justice. To that end, we have no objection if the Nova Scotia government decides to hold a public inquiry into these serious allegations, so long as it does not impede or delay the prosecution of these serious criminal charges, or the disposition of the civil lawsuits filed against the Home."
This made many prominent black Nova Scotian's to abandon the NDP including important figures such as Gordon Earie - the provinces first black MP. When he tendered his resignation from the party, he reflected how "I believe them (the victims) when they tell us what happened to them."
Still, the NDP ignored this gesture as they became a long wolf voice in opposing an inquiry.
Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie and the Liberals Stephen McNeil both endorsed an inquiry. The Liberal leader and now Premier elect said "I believe it is vitally important that the Province of Nova Scotia move ahead with an inquiry into this matter and it must be an immediate priority for any new government after this election."
The Tories, who once under then-Premier John Hamm, designated an affirmative like provincial legislation to ensure black leadership in the eight regional school boards, promised to "appoint an independent expert or experts to draft the terms of reference for such a probe." They also advocated, like the Liberals, to continue to designate certain ridings for minority candidates from the francophone Acadians and black communities with the goal of enhancing "the cultural diversity of the legislature" as supported by many.
The NDP vocally supported the idea of removing it for political reasons.
Last night, both of the Liberals and Conservatives were compensated with overwhelming support. The NDP was reduced to rubble. In accepting defeat, the departing premier reflected how he "didn't see this kind of erosion" and went on to say that, "you have to deal with what you have in front of you and that's what the party will do."
As the NDP moves to its traditional neglected place in the political historical progress of the province, I hope it is justice for Nova Scotia's large black population that will move and progress forward. The neglected voice of the province's 3 per cent population must be taken seriously before more of the aging alleged victims leave us for good.
Last night, it was Tony Ince, a noted human rights activist in the black Nova Scotia population that became the MLA for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour over the Premier who held it since 1998. Ince reflected how "to take somebody out like that, people would either have to be really angry or I would have had to have a lot of rabbit's feet in my pocket."
Brother, Canadians were angry.