Spring is finally arriving in earnest; the weather has gotten nice and warm, the snow is melting away and it seems that our long winter is finally done (knock on wood). But it seems that spring 2019 could also be dubbed another thing: election season. With the Alberta Election now in the book, the vote in Prince Edward Island happening next week and rumours of a potential early election in Manitoba, there is a lot out there already to digest. But last night we got more to add to our plate, as this news became official:
Yes folks, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are off to the polls with election day falling on May 16th, although the timing is very interesting. You see it was just a couple of days ago that the Liberal Government of Dwight Ball introduced their budget. It was a budget that was balanced, by some creative accounting, that it seems generally agreed will be unbalanced by default by the time the next budget is introduced. As for the issues of this campaign? That remains to be seen. As for the state of play, the most recent CRA poll for the province puts it here:
According to this polling from early March, the Ball Liberals were in a 7% lead ahead of the PC’s, lead by Ches Crosbie. If that name sounds familiar to you, it should. Ches is the son of none-other than famous Newfoundland politician John Crosbie. The provinces New Democrats sit at 16%, but they have been in turmoil of their own, with leader Gerry Rogers resigning recently. She was replaced just last month by economist Allison Coffin, who rose to the leadership by default by virtue of being the only person to seek the leadership. Not exactly the best footing to be entering a campaign. And to add to the mix there will be a new party in this campaign; the NL Alliance, which is led by former PC president Graydon Pelley, because an official party less than a week ago but will be fighting this election. They only have four candidates nominated so far and we’ll see if that changes as the campaign goes along. In order to have an impact on this race, they’ll surely need more.
So, what should we expect from this campaign? On the issues, it doesn’t seem to be as hot as the race in Alberta was, but there is a month to see if that remains true. The Liberal government did just manage to get an update to the Atlantic Accord with Ottawa, which will result in an extra $2.5 billion flowing to the province over 38 years from revenues raised by offshore oil and gas development. This is a feather in the cap of the Ball government, but it will remain to be seen if that is enough to keep his government in power.
Overall the timing of this writ drop makes it feel like it will very much be a two-way race between the Liberals and PC’s, as the NDP is caught at a weaker moment due to leadership changes. Could the New Democrats increase their two seats in the House of Assembly? Maybe but that’s harder to picture with the current state of the party. As for the front runners, we’ll see where it all leads but after a heated race in Alberta, this election feels like it will be run at a lower temperature, which isn’t a bad thing given what we will probably see in the Fall.
But for the Liberal Party nationally, the end result of this race could be a bad omen. As for writing this today, there are only three Liberal provincial governments left, all on the East Coast. After the votes are counted in PEI next week, if you believe the polls there would only be two Liberal provincial governments in Canada. If the Ball Liberals were to fall, that would leave just the Nova Scotia Liberal government of Stephen McNeil, who just happens to be the least popular provincial premier in the country. That is a big change from when the Trudeau Liberals won in 2015, when they had seven Liberal provincial governments (although BC is always a sketchy one to add here). That’s a lot of allies to lose over an election cycle. So, for the Federal Liberals, this race will have big importance for their future.
We’ll see what the results in Newfoundland and Labrador will bring in mid-May, but it’s another election on the go in a Canadian province. And thankfully for those candidates and volunteers out there in this campaign, the warmer weather is hear and should make for a better time. Enjoy the spring air as you’re knocking on those doors.