HALIFAX, N.S. — Premier Darrell Dexter's New Democrats have picked up another seat in the Nova Scotia legislature.
Maurice Smith of the NDP easily won a provincial byelection Tuesday in Antigonish, a riding previously held by the Conservatives and one never before won by the New Democrats.
"It's always thrilling when you win a seat that you haven't won before," Dexter said following Smith's win. "It's great for the team there.
"It's really a credit to Mo Smith and all the people who for many years have put in a lot of work in that riding."
In a second byelection, the Conservatives retained their seat in Inverness when investment adviser Allan MacMaster won the riding recently held by former premier Rodney MacDonald.
Smith, a legal aid lawyer, picked up 3,310 votes in Antigonish - 450 more than the second-place candidate Darren Thompson of the Conservatives. Liberal Miles Thompkins was third with 1,830 while Michael Marshall of the Greens had 74.
The result was much closer in Inverness, where MacMaster won by only 50 votes over Ian McNeil of the Liberals.
MacMaster finished with 3,155 votes to 3,105 to McNeil and 2,342 for Bert Lewis of the NDP. Green candidate Nathalie Arseneault had 223 votes.
The NDP win in Antigonish increases Dexter's majority in the legislature to 32 seats to 11 for the Liberals and nine for the Tories.
Dexter said he was disappointed by the result in Inverness, a riding he thought they had a chance to also win.
"We knew that was going to be a tight riding," he said. "They had three candidates, all of whom had a considerable profile. ... I think all the credit goes to Mr. MacMaster. I'm sure he'll make a great representative."
The byelections were called after MacDonald stepped down in Inverness while his former deputy, Angus MacIsaac, did the same in Antigonish.