Today we’re going to see another item on the list to the Fall election get checked off as Canada’s youngest province goes to the polls. In Newfoundland and Labrador, people will be going to vote for the next members of the House of Assembly in what is expected to be the last provincial election before the Fall’s big vote, unless the Manitoba PC’s decide otherwise and call a snap election, as has been rumoured for a while. The Liberals of Dwight Ball are the incumbents while the PC’s of Ches Crosbie and the New Democrats of Allison Coffin are offering change. Here is the state of play going into todays vote:
This race is just that, a race right down to the finish. Tonight’s result should be a very close one, due to some interesting quirkiness. For starters, in most of the provinces 40 ridings it will be a straight-up two-party race. The New Democrats have only nominated 14 candidates across the province, which is not good for the Orange Team, while the new NL Alliance has nominated less than 10. That means in most of Newfoundland and Labrador, it will be a straight-up Liberal-PC fight. It will be interesting to see what comes of those normally NDP voters in those ridings where the party is simply absent and to whose advantage it will be.
This election, like all of the previous provincial elections that have happened in the last calendar year, will have an effect on the narrative that we will see go into the Fall. For the Trudeau Liberals, the Ball government is one of only three Liberal governments left standing in the entire country; only Nova Scotia and the Yukon remain outside of that. So if the Liberals fall tonight, that will leave the Federal government with two lone allies in the provinces and a vastly different political landscape than the one he inherited at the start of his term. That could be very bad for the Red Team in the Fall.
For the Conservatives, having a PC government in Newfoundland and Labrador could be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you see it. We can all remember the days about how Danny Williams was a strong thorn in the side of the Harper government and given his political lineage, one could easily picture Ches Crosbie being similar. But of course, that’s only an issue for the Scheer Conservatives if they actually win in the Fall, so I doubt they’ll worry about that anytime soon. The blessing for them though would be another blue block in the wall and another ally at the provincial level. If all goes well too, it could mark an end to the Conservatives problems in the province that steamed from those Williams/Harper fights. Maybe that could put a couple seats in the province in play for the Conservatives? If so, that’s a good sign for them getting to government.
For the New Democrats, the whole scene is really a mess right now in Newfoundland and Labrador. Between the last-minute leadership changes and squabbles that came from that, this is not the best foot that the Orange team has to put forward. It’s a far cry from a couple of election ago, when the party was riding high and there was real talk of the NDP rising to government or official opposition. Not being on the ballot in almost 70% of the provinces ridings is just bad, there is no other way to spin that. The best the party can seem to hope for at this point would be to hold a couple seats in St. John’s, but that’s not even a guarantee. Because of the tightness of this race, there is a better than normal chance the New Democrats could get completely swept off the Rock in this campaign. That’s another bad sign for the New Democrats federally, in a region where they are already dealing with falling behind the Greens in New Brunswick and PEI. In that regard, the only saving grace for the NDP is that the Greens have no provincial presence in this province, but I would argue that’s cold comfort right now.
So tonight, we’ll see the results come in and see who the next Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador will be. The race tonight will go a long way to determining what the Fall election might bring and after tonight, we should have a very good idea of who all the players in that autumnal political drama will be.