Saturday, April 07, 2007

Provincial Matters

Unless you're a hockey fan, it figures to be a pretty slow news weekend. So I thought it might be a good time for a little election speculation. However, it certainly seems to me that there's a speculatory imbalance with all the hype being on the federal vote, so I figured I'd take a looksy at some of the provincial elections coming up this year. I'm certainly not an expert in the intricacies of Newfoundland or Manitoban politics, so this is more of an open thread for those closer to the action to give their two cents on the local scene.


October 10th, 2007 will be voting day as Dalton McGuinty guns for a second term against the tory Tory. The latest SES numbers have the Liberals ahead, although not at their 2003 numbers quite yet:

Lib 41
PC 33
NDP 17

Despite the early flack for broken promises, I'd be surprised to see McGuinty lose this one.

Newfoundland & Labrador

King Williams seems to be the safest Premier in Canada these days, with opinions polls showing him miles ahead of an opposition in disarray. Despite a recent by election win by the Liberals, this should be another walk in the park for Danny as he runs on his anti-Ottawa platform.

It's weird - politicians who are adored outside of their home provinces like Bernard Lord and Jean Charest are usually reviled at home, while those who turn into punch lines like Danny Williams and Ralph Klein are the ones who cruise to record majorities.


Lorne Calvert will certainly be tempted to take a page from Premier Williams and wage war on Ottawa during the next campaign. Despite an economic boom, after 16 years in power, voters seem to be tiring of NDP government and the Sask Party (slogan: "Just like the old PCs, minus the kick backs!") has routinely been ahead in the polls over the past year. They are led by Brad Wall who I doubt anyone outside of Saskatchewan has ever heard of.


You probably want to check out Hack's blog for the low down on Manitoba politics, but it certainly sounds like the opposition are poised to knock off Gary Doer here.


Pat Binns is the Premier. Above and beyond that, I really don't have anything insightful to say about the state of PEI politics. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

UPDATE: OK, here's some news on PEI.


My money is on 2008 for the next election but it could be joining the 007 club if Ed Stelmach decides he wants to get his own mandate. It has been 36 years since the last government change here so, even by Alberta standards, we are due. The Liberals have their sights set on a Calgary breakthrough as the former farmer Stelmach is seen to be anti-Calgary in many circles (those circles usually comprising of Jim Dinning supporters). But with an electoral map which favours rural Alberta dramatically, it would take one heck of a stumble for the Tories to fall out of power.

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  • I expect a protest vote supporting the Liberals in Calgary and Edmonton, but I agree, it would take an act of God to unseat the PC's.

    I finally did read Taft's book and he's got some good ideas. The problem, however, is the word "Liberal" because it's associated with it's much hated federal cousin. I don't know what's happened to the provincial Liberals frankly. Ralph Klein handed them so much political ammunition (Stelmach seems to be doing the same, albeit without the flair for putting his foot in his mouth like King Ralph)yet if you asked the average Albertan if they'd ever heard of Taft, I suspect they'd look at you funny.

    I don't know if anyone has noticed this, but whenever I listen to the radio and there's a news issue about a government policy, the opposition person you hear first is usually Brian Mason -- what's up with that?

    Alberta needs a new government from a different party with a different plan from what we've had for the past billion years. My personal belief is that Alberta Liberals need to create a new centrist party and they should take a page from Danny Williams or even Ralph Klein. Give the appearance of standing up to Ottawa - it's political gold out here.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 6:11 p.m.  

  • Regarding PEI, Binns has referred to 2007 as an election year; I think a spring vote is the most likely, but everybody is waiting to see how things shake down vis a vis a federal vote.

    Politically, the Tories are a spent force, coasting on Liberal leader Robert Ghiz's difficulty in connecting with voters (I don't know anyone who thinks Buchanan wouldn't have been a better choice) and Binns' (to me) inexplicable personal popularity; the Liberals were ahead in the polls for much of the last year, but the Tories recently pulled ahead by a couple of points.

    The NDP leader has promised to get at least 5% of the vote in his riding.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 7:50 p.m.  

  • While I agree that as it stands the PCs are coasting to another win in Alberta, I could certainly see them dying of a thousand cuts rather than one massive scandal or blowout.

    By Blogger Glen, at 8:26 p.m.  

  • What the Alberta PC's have been able to do again and again is reinvent themselves as needed. The PC party of the Klein era certainly had little to do with that of the Lougheed one.

    Now, whether Stelmach is the person to lead the PC change is still a question that the jury is out on. Is he a new leader that Albertan's can latch on too like Lougheed and Klein, or will he be a Harry Strom or Don Getty?

    I really can't see the provincial Liberals coming into power anytime soon. Too radical, too "anti" and they have a leader who is too intellectual.

    Taft is probably a good thinker, but he does not have what it takes to catch the imagination of Albertan's. He is much better suited in academia.

    Just observations, and my hope is that the PC's get back to their roots, and stop the big budget spending that permeates their thoughts. I hope they start seriously do something about environmental issues, and start dealing with growth issues and changing demographics. Those are our challenges for the next decade, and more.

    By Blogger Andy, at 8:31 p.m.  

  • The PCs are going to win again in Alberta. Stelmache doesn't exactly rile anyone up to go out and kick the rascals out. We saw a protest vote in the last election against Klein. I doubt we'll see that to the same extent this time around. Stelmache is quietly doing alright. It doesn't seem like he's done enough to draw alot of attention to himself positive or negative but as long as he doesn't screw anything up that's probably a sufficient improvement over Ralph the later years, to content voters.

    Stelmache isn't as articulate as I personally prefer politicians, but he does seem to have an honest/genuine thing going for him that has some currency. He also seems cautious so I doubt he'll commit any significant errors.

    By Blogger Chris, at 9:42 p.m.  

  • Am I the only one in Alberta who thinks it's bullshit that we're not going to the polls sooner?? How long does this guy want to govern wtihout a provincial mandate?!

    By Blogger Scooge, at 9:47 p.m.  

  • man lib - what sort of timing are people looking at for the next election?

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:58 p.m.  

  • Nova Scotia is in a minority government situation, so you never know when they might head back to the polls. MacDonald is down in the polls and some of his cabinet ministers have run into some troubles.

    I'm sure the NDP in Nova Scotia might trying to push for an election. The Liberals pick a new leader this month, so who knows when the election will be.

    By Blogger Bailey, at 9:59 p.m.  

  • There won't be an election in Nova Scotia this year.

    By Blogger Mr. Revolution, at 10:04 p.m.  

  • If Nova Scotia goes this year it will be late. Definitely not this spring or summer. Even the fall is doubtful unless the Tories really tank, or the new Liberal leader gets a real boost.

    Newfoundland/Labrador will be in October, because not only do they now have fixed elections, they have fixed election dates, too.

    I can't understand PEI. Binns is quite possibly the dumbest premier around. Nice, sane, inoffensive and all that, but dumb. He remains, however, quite electable.

    By Blogger Mark, at 10:39 p.m.  

  • I think Alberta is ready for a change, but history shows that the Opposition is never the winner, so thank God it won't be the Liberals. The Green Party (Alberta vs federal) has some interesting ideas, but I don't know if they've fleshed it out well enough to get anywhere. As a result, I'm predicting the Alliance sneaking up from behind.

    Of course, they seem to have gone to ground lately, so this will have to be a Vimy-Ridge-like tunnel affair, unless they get their sh*t together soon.

    By Blogger Candace, at 5:53 a.m.  

  • Danny Williams is going to spontaneously combust.

    The odds are still long against it happening before October... but getting less long all the time.

    By Blogger WJM, at 2:40 p.m.  

  • The Liberal Party of Alberta has to demonstrate that it will defend Alberta's interests?

    Did Taft condemn Mark Holland for his "I'm going to be the boss of Alberta Western tour"? No.

    Is Taft condeming Dion's "NEP II", another rape of Alberta, disguised as a Green Plan. (The federal Liberals did nothing for nearly 10 years on Kyoto. Now their Kyoto plan is basically tax Alberta to death to meet the targets on a Kyoto timeline) The federal Liberals did nothing for ten punish Alberta for their 10 years of inaction is grotesquely unfair. Any fair plan has to give Alberta a reasonable timetable before the oppressive taxation (and wealth transfers to other provinces) gets imposed. The Dion plan does not do that.

    Taft has to make Dion and the federal Liberals confess for their decade of inaction on the environment, and stop trying for an environmental "Hail Mary pass" on the backs of Alberta. (Dion and McGuinty's green plan has lots of escape clauses for other regions.)

    Taft is also making the mistake by focussing on PC corruption. He should just be hammering away at the export of raw bitumen day-in and day-out. It is an issue ordinary Albertans can understand since it represents the export of well-paying permanent jobs to Illinois and Texas. He should be hammering away at the infrastructure problems.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 2:44 p.m.  

  • Also, Taft should be hammering the Alberta Conservatives for being behind the curve on the environment, thereby giving the federal Liberals the opportunity for a second NEP under the guise of the environment. He should also be hammering the Alberta conservatives for not selling the special case that the oilsands represent to the international community for the energy security of the "free world", and to have an Alberta environmental plan for the oilsands in place to sell to the international community.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 2:52 p.m.  

  • why - that is a good question. Why is it that Taft should be going after Holland for something Holland never said? You are buying the Harper spin on that one - stop with the fear mongering NEPII crap. Dion has been clear that he wants to work with Alberta to develop new industries, and he is correct. It is about time Alberta stopped relying on the oil industry exclusively. As an Albertan, I am not sure why the rest of the world should suffer through our environmental negligence just so we can make money. We have to take responsibility for our actions - and I think most people in this province are prepared to do just that.

    Taft's bigger problem is not that he does not say the right things, it is that the rest of us are not listening. Klein had such a stranglehold on the media in this province that we never had an opportunity to hear anything from the liberals. Add to that Klein's contant promotion of the NDP in order to ensure there is no attention to the liberals. Despite all that, there was a breakthrough for both opposition parties in Edmonton last election.

    Now that Klein is gone we are now starting to see some cracks in the giant conservative media monopoly.

    Not that it matters - Taft could be the world's biggest hero and still not win the election because he is a liberal, and liberals are evil.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 3:27 p.m.  

  • I think the death of Laurence Decore threw off Alberta's cycle. Another 35 years of Tory rule to come.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 4:55 p.m.  

  • For the Liberals to ever have a chance in Alberta, they definitely need someone with the stature of the late Laurence Decore. And, Kevin Taft is no Laurence Decore.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 11:39 a.m.  

  • Premier Binns dumb? Maybe in a Chretien sort of way. We can't even get a conservative MP elected here so I think it's fair to say that if Patrick Binns has been able to hold on to a majority conservative government since 1996 then he has to be one of the smartest dumb premiers we've ever had. I can't think of another premier who has had as much personal popularity since Angus MacLean.

    By Blogger Paul MacPhail, at 1:23 p.m.  

  • No surprise on the Williams/Klein thing, Grit. A lot of these guys realize that what plays at home won't necessarily play outside the province, but they realize that that doesn't matter. What they understand is that they must pull together enough supporters and leaning swing votes to keep their majorities, and standing up against those rapscallions in Ottawa/Washington/Mexico City/Whatever is the way to do it.

    (It's related to that old truism that voters all hate Congress, but love their Congressman, because he's their guy.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:29 p.m.  

  • Pat Binns' massive popularity puzzles me but it exists. I think it's because he appeals to the honest, family-oriented "Island way of life" or something. The election is going to be called possibly within days and I would certainly expect a fourth term for the Tories (with probably a reduced majority) even though they certainly don't set the world on fire with their governing skills. Robert Ghiz just doesn't connect with people. I don't know what it is, he just can't break through. I wonder where his political career goes from here if he loses this upcoming election (which I think he will).

    There won't be an election in NS this year. No one really wants one (except maybe the NDP) and the Liberals will keep the Tories alive until they're ready, I think. They'll want to give their new leader a chance to get used to the job. I think the NDP feels their breakthrough is just about to occur though so some of them are itching for it.

    In Ontario, I imagine McGuinty will win; people were highly upset with him after the 2004 budget debacle but he and the Liberals have recovered since then and I don't really sense an overwhelming urge to dump the Grits anymore. I have no doubt they'll lose some seats but I think they'll get a second term. Then again, this government has had bad luck ever since it took over so I wouldn't be totally shocked if something happened that cost him the election.

    By Blogger CanadianRyan, at 1:45 p.m.  

  • Here are my predictions:

    Alberta: Although there is a strong desire for change, I expect the Tories to coast to another majority. Even Calgary will probably stay Tory, when you consider that the word Liberal is almost like a four letter word there. If they changed their name and moved slightly to the right they could win. The problem in Alberta is their political centre is to the right of the rest of Canada so trying to be centrist by Ontario standards won't work there.

    Saskatchewan - It is the Saskatchewan Party's election to lose. Although an NDP win is still possible if they run a disastrous campaign, but I would say unlikely.

    Manitoba - Too early to tell, although I would give the NDP a slight edge, however I do believe the PCs will gain seats and it appears they will likely get above 40% this time around, although considering Manitoba is a two party system largely that may not be enough.

    Ontario - I think an Ontario PC majority is pretty much out of the picture, but an Ontario PC minority is still possible when you consider there were about a dozen 905 ridings won by relatively small margins. In addition John Tory is more of a Bill Davis than Mike Harris Tory so bringing up the past of Mike Harris won't be as effective as it would have been against Flaherty or Klees.

    Quebec: Since they have a minority, anything is possible, but at this point it is really too early to tell.

    PEI: A landslide looks less likely, but too close to call as to whether it will go PC or Liberal.

    Nova Scotia: Likely a minority since the PCs are strong in Rural Nova Scotia, NDP in Halifax, and Liberals in Cape Breton Island and there seems little sign of this changing.

    Newfoundland & Labrador: Danny Williams in a landslide. In fact the possibility of him winning every single seat shouldn't be ruled out, although not likely.

    By Blogger Monkey Loves to Fight, at 6:13 p.m.  

  • I don't know about Ontario, actually; I'm getting a very "Bernard Lord/Jean Charest" vibe in the run-up to the fall election. There isn't an apparently obvious reason why McGuinty should lose - but then again, there wasn't an apparently obvious reason why Lord's PCs lost the NB election in 2006, or why the biggest threat to Charest's premiership would be a rag-tag fringe party. McGuinty looks fine right now, but in the world of politics, the fall is an eternity away - and far stranger things have happened in Ontario politics.

    By Blogger daniel, at 2:07 p.m.  

  • Hey CG,

    Didn't realize you were sending people over to me on the weekend, otherwise I would have wrote something of note. I'll do up a bit of an overview and post it tonight or tomorrow morning.

    The short story is that 8 seats have to switch from the NDP to the Tories to put the Tories in a minority gov't. I've got five switching for sure (3 rural, 2 Winnipeg), but the other three could be tough sledding unless the Tories run a solid campaign coupled with a poor NDP one.

    And the call could come as soon as Friday. If I was Doer, that's when I go.

    By Blogger The Hack, at 7:15 p.m.  

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