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Ernie Fage didn't know when to quit, so the voters decided for him.

The former Conservative cabinet minister was defeated soundly in Cumberland North yesterday as voters in the longtime Tory riding joined the rest of Nova Scotia in making electoral history by electing the province's first NDP government.

Mr. Fage, 55, who was expelled from Tory caucus in Halifax in 2007, finished a distant second to the NDP's Brian Skabar as the New Democrats under Leader Darrell Dexter rolled to power in the Nova Scotia for the first time.

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The majority of his former colleagues in the Tory cabinet were turfed as the NDP made historic gains in areas previously not their domain.

Among the members of cabinet who were defeated were Fisheries Minister Ron Chisholm, Energy Minister Barry Barnet, Education Minister Judy Streatch, Immigration Minister Len Goucher, Agriculture Minister Mark Parent and Tourism Minister Bill Dooks.

Mr. Goucher was defeated in Bedford-Birch Cove by Liberal Kelly Regan, the wife of Liberal MP Geoff Regan. And in Truro-Bible Hill, a traditional Tory stronghold, actress Lenore Zann was elected for the NDP.

The soft-spoken Mr. Fage held his seat for almost 12 years - most of it as a Tory, then as an Independent after he was expelled from caucus when he was convicted of leaving the scene of a car accident.

He was philosophical about the Conservatives' poor showing across the province.

"Governments defeat themselves, they grow older and people look for change every two or three elections and I think that's what we're seeing tonight," he said.

Mr. Fage resigned as human resources minister soon after local TV news programs broadcast grainy cellphone images in November 2006 showing him driving away from a fender-bender in Halifax.

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At his trial, witnesses said he had been at a pub earlier in the evening and smelled of alcohol at the accident scene.

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