The past few months have been a whirlwind for Tony Ince. The former Halifax waterfront stevedore, hospital patient attendant and Oakwood Collegiate Institute hall monitor and emergency supply teacher shocked Nova Scotia’s premier Darrell Dexter in last October’s Liberals landslide win and was rewarded with key ministerial positions.
In winning the Cole Harbour-Portland Valley riding by 21 votes, Ince – who has responsibility for Communities, Culture, Heritage and African Nova Scotian Affairs –avenged a heavy 4,340-vote loss to Dexter in the 2009 elections.
For Dexter and his New Democratic Party, the debilitating defeat marked the first time in 131 years that a government was denied a second term in Nova Scotia.
Back in Toronto last weekend for the first time since the elections, Ince reflected on his meteoric political rise and the 18 years he spent in this city before returning to Nova Scotia a decade ago.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to beat the Premier,” he admitted. “I envisioned the party was going to lose, Darrell would step down and there would be a by-election at which time I would be in a position to pose a serious challenge. I really didn’t see things playing out the way they did.”
Ince was enticed to stay in Toronto after attending a family member’s wedding in 1986.
“At the time, I was out in western Canada and the majority of my family were here in this city,” he said. “It was expensive for them to come out and visit me. I came and liked what I saw and decided to remain here.”
At Oakwood, Ince taught history, drama, physical education and social studies; revived the soccer program; coached basketball, soccer and cricket; advocated on behalf of students who were treated unfairly and was a program assistant for the school’s “Youth First” project that links student to the arts and culture industry.
“The students, staff and parents treated me very well and I will always cherish my time there,” said Ince who was also actively involved in the school’s African-Canadian Club.
He was also a member of the Page 1B-n-tince-Edited prior to returning to Nova Scotia in 2004.
“My mom was the main reason for me and my family going back,” he said. “She was getting up in age and wanted to be closer to her grandchildren who she rarely saw.”
Ince, who attended York University, and his wife have two teenage children.
Back in the Maritimes, he enrolled at Dalhousie University and St. Francis Xavier University where he earned his Bachelor of Education degree last year and worked as a Department of Community Services counsellor, Xerox sales representative and actor before pursuing politics.
In his ministerial portfolio, Ince oversees a staff of 260 and his priorities include the speedy restoration of the Bluenose II schooner. Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador was supposed to return to regular sailing in the summer of 2012 after an extensive two-year rebuild, but that deadline has been delayed.
Besides reuniting with friends in Toronto, Ince attended a reception co-hosted by Minister of Citizenship & Immigration Michael Coteau. He also met with Member of Provincial Parliament Mitzie Hunter.
The president of the Cole Harbour Liberal Association, Ince is a founding member of the Black Ice Hockey & Sports Hall of Fame Conference.