Plus, just imagine the on-camera meltdown that would ensue if anyone asked Seamus O’Regan how preferential balloting works (please somebody make this happen).
Well, we can all climb down from the edges of our seats. The grueling anticipation is over: the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election has been set for November 30th, 2015.
The Tories’ own legislation mandated that it was supposed to come no later than a year after they handed Paul Davis the worst job in the province last September. The Liberals were certainly eager to hold them to it, although this probably has more to do with Dwight Ball chomping at the bit in opposition than any grand concern for the spirit of the law. You can’t really blame him. By this point it’s received wisdom that people are ready to hand Ball the keys to the kingdom with almost no questions asked, which is good because lately it seems like the more of them he has to field, the more he goes out of the way to hang himself. Not that any of this matters, of course, since fixed date election laws are really just suggestions in this country (and no one’s going to vote).
At any rate, all of the provincial polling numbers that have been floating around are pretty soft. The Liberal enterprise is premised entirely on getting a small vanguard of loyalists to corral the people who write long, angry comments about the government on VOCM Questions of the Day. Meanwhile, Earle McCurdy’s latest bump breaks down between people who like that he’s “none of the above” and people who think that voting NDP will now get them a job in Alberta.
The only numbers you can really take to the bank is that people hate the Tories. Davis is likely hoping that a forthcoming development deal with Statoil can put him back in the public’s good graces. But even assuming things smooth out in the oil industry, it’s unlikely another triumphant photo-op on the steps of the St. John’s airport will be enough to turn things around. But hey! There’s always the long shot that they might finally hire the one consultant who can dig them out of their grave. Fall down 106 times and stand up 107, right?
All in all, the odds of the provincial race diverging much from the prophesied Liberal win is doubtful. But the intervening federal election in October could always throw a wrench in things. What happens federally trickles back to the province in interesting and sometimes unpredictable ways.
For instance, we can no longer take for granted that Justin Trudeau will come out of October’s federal election as the prime minister or even as the leader of the opposition. Between Trudeau’s asinine and miscalculated support for Stephen Harper’s C-51 surveillance fiesta – and the NDP sweep in Alberta melting everybody’s brains – we appear to actually be looking at a legitimate three-way race in Ottawa. People seem to be genuinely warming up to Tom Mulcair and, more importantly, enough people are starting to believe he could become prime minister to actually make it happen. And there’s no reason to think an NDP wave wouldn’t ripple back to give McCurdy a little boost.
But a lot can happen in four months, and it’s dangerous for a party leader like Mulcair to spike in popularity this far out from the vote. Now he has plenty of time to both do or say something stupid and start drawing fire from the Conservative attack ad gunship. The Liberals, too, just announced an earnest policy of overhauling the electoral system, which is admittedly pretty awesome. Anyone offering to take out the trash that is first-past-the-post voting is doing the Lord’s work. But it’s not clear that it’ll be enough to bring back progressives who are still pissed off about C-51 – especially given that promising electoral reform has been a Dipper staple for years. Plus, just imagine the on-camera meltdown that would ensue if anyone asked Seamus O’Regan how preferential balloting works (please somebody make this happen).
So buckle up, folks. The Houses are shuttered for summer and we’re slated for back-to-back fall elections. Get ready to have your brain assaulted from all sides, crescendoing in eight-to-twelve weeks of partisan madness. The sun may be shining now, but rest assured my friends: the long winter of our discontent is coming.