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Fort St. John

Some facts and figures about the federal riding of Central Nova

NEW GLASGOW, N.S. — Central Nova

Northern Nova Scotia has proven to be a Tory bastion in the past. But the region was caught up in a Liberal sweep in 2015 that saw the party win all 32 ridings in Atlantic Canada. No one expects the Liberals to repeat that success on Oct. 21, meaning ridings like Central Nova and neighbouring Cumberland-Colchester are up for grabs. Recent polling suggests tight races between the Liberals and Conservatives. The battle in Central Nova has attracted attention because the Tory challenger is country music star George Canyon.

Population: 71,962 (Statistics Canada).

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Major communities: New Glasgow, Stellarton, Pictou, Antigonish.

Incumbent: Elected in 2015, Liberal Sean Fraser has served as the parliamentary secretary to the environment minister.

Main challengers: Conservative George Canyon, who has won several Juno awards, was selected by the party to contest the riding in late August when the original candidate pulled out for personal reasons; Green candidate Barry Randle is an activist and co-owner of the Stone Soup Cafe in Pictou; New Democrat Betsy MacDonald is a community organizer from Antigonish.

Election history: Considered a Tory stronghold, the riding was held by former Tory cabinet minister Elmer MacKay from 1972 until 1993, except in 1983-84 when he stepped aside and then-Tory leader Brian Mulroney won the seat in a byelection. Liberal Roseanne Skoke held the riding between 1993 and 1997.

The riding was partly dissolved into Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough in 1997, which MacKay’s son Peter won and held until 2004 when Central Nova was reborn as a riding. The younger MacKay — also a high-profile cabinet minister — held the riding until 2015, when he left public life.

Fun fact: Sean Fraser has been playing the bagpipes for more than 20 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was originally published Oct. 13, 2019.

The Canadian Press