Kelloway overcomes early deficit to take Cape Breton-Canso

Mike Kelloway

GLACE BAY: A new face for the Liberal Party will be leading a riding that’s been a Liberal stronghold since the turn of the millennium.

“We felt good from day one, but we knew this would be a tight campaign,” said newly-minted Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Canso, Mike Kelloway, who spoke to The Reporter yesterday morning.

“Every time a poll came in, I’d take a walk around the neighbourhood, so I did about 10,000 steps in two hours,” he said. “There was certainly excitement and nervousness.”

After falling behind early in the evening, Kelloway took 16,097 votes (38.5 per cent) during Monday’s election, with Conservative Alfie MacLeod finishing second at 14,478 votes (34.6 per cent). Finishing third was NDP newcomer Laurie Suitor with 6,258 nods (15 per cent).

Rounding out the pack were Green candidate Clive Doucet (3,246 votes), People’s Party candidate Billy Joyce (968 votes), independent contender Michelle Dockrill (671 votes), and the National Citizens Alliance’s Darlene Lynn LeBlanc (139 votes).

Kelloway replaced outgoing Liberal leader Rodger Cuzner, who won the riding six times since 2000. Cuzner announced his retirement earlier this year.

Just four years ago, Cuzner took the riding with a 25.917 vote majority, netting 32,163 votes as his NDP, Conservative and Green opposition tallied a combined 11,074 votes.

The former MP was a big help during the campaign, Kelloway said.

“He [Cuzner] called last night and was very complimentary,” Kelloway said. “And I was very complimentary back to him. To win six elections over 19 years is not luck – it’s skill and ability.”

Kelloway said, with six other candidates vying for the seat, local voters had a “buffet of policies and ideas to choose from.” With that, the campaigns and debates largely remained issue-oriented, making for civil exchanges between the local leaders.

Kelloway said contending against a politician with the stature of Alfie MacLeod was not to be taken lightly. Incidentally, The Reporter left messages for MacLeod at both his constituency office and with his campaign manager, but those messages were not returned by press time.

“Alfie is exceptionably formidable. He’s been in provincial politics for 20 years, so he has a built in constituency from the province, and it made me work that much harder,” Kelloway said. “We knew from the get-go that the way to win this was on the ground, door-to-door, hall-to-hall, and just go, go, go. It was seven days a week, and 12 hour days, from September 1 on. Before that, it was five evenings a week and weekends.”

He said he’ll bring massive work ethic to his new role, and he added he wants to be ready to help everyone in the constituency.

“My hope is to be one of – if not the most – engaged and visible MPs in Canada,” he said. “I want to engage the community more, get to know the key players more, I want to build relationships for the betterment of everyone in this riding. There are a lot of challenges, but there’s also a lot of opportunity.”

Before getting into politics, the newly elected MP worked in the extension department at Cape Breton University and served as a special project administrator at the Nova Scotia Community College. He studied Community Studies at Cape Breton University and later studied at the University of Calgary where he pursued graduate studies in education.