Monday, August 07, 2006

"Premier expected to call election"

With apologies to the Times & Transcript, I have used their headline from today's front page ("Premier expected to call election") for this article.

The juices are flowing full throttle. The political scientists, whose ability to call elections I always take with grain of salt, do have some interesting perspectives as we move forward.

Lord is certainly in a favourable position - leading in the polls, has just introduced a "good news" budget and facing a Liberal leader that is, at least perceived as, weak. That said however, he is not in as good of a position today as he was in May 2003 the last time he called an election. At that point the Tories thought they might rack up a McKenna-style landslide and looked to win virtually every seat. Instead, they won the smallest majority possible and had 10 votes flipped against Brenda Fowlie, they might have faced a Liberal minority dropped up by Elizabeth Weir.

Today Lord has a good lead coming out of the gate and you don't need opinion polls to see that. However, I think a lot of his support is soft so he must be careful to run a smart campaign. The Liberals have reassembled the same campaign team that they used in 2003, a campaign team which by all accounts ran a nearly perfect operation. Though Shawn Graham has slipped in the legislature, all agree he outperforms the premier on the hustings at the very least and, if 2003 is to be used as a lesson, he dominates.

This election, I predict, will be as much of a nail biter as in 2003 but the winner will emerge with a more workable majority of perhaps 6 or 7 seats.

The Telegraph-Journal has their races to watch today and, over the next while, I will produce my preliminary races to watch (to be adjusted as candidates emerge) and I'll do some detailed profiles on them as the campaign progresses (assuming that it does).

Here are the TJ's picks (with their thoughts paraphrased, I have a different take on a number of theses; I've added my comments in some places in brackets):
  • The new ridings of Dieppe Centre-Lewisville and Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe will both be prime targets by the Liberals to get a better foothold in greater Moncton
  • Quispamsis where, Brenda Fowlie won by 18 votes in 2003, will be an essential pick up by the Liberals due to the close 2003 race and to Fowlie's tendancy to controversy as minister
  • The Tories will look to regain Saint John East (formerly Saint John Champlain) and Saint John Lancaster which were swiped by the Liberals in 2003
  • The riding of Fundy-River Valley (formerly Grand Bay-Westfield) is open due to the retirement of class of 1995 MLA Milt Sherwood.
  • Brad Green is vunerable in Fredericton-Silverwood and the Liberals are running Ann (sic) Bertrand
  • Fredericton-Lincoln looks to be an all star match up of Allison Brewer vs. Greg Byrne
  • The Tories will look to topple either or both of troublemakers T.J. Burke and Kelly Lamrock in Fredericton-Nashwaaksis and Fredericton-Ft. Nashwaak respectively
  • The five northern ridings where the Liberals won by less than 400 votes
  • Southwest Miramichi where Brent Taylor looks to make a triumphant return
  • York where Liberal incumbent Scott Targett is not reoffering
  • York North where Kirk MacDonald won by only 103 votes
  • Grand Lake-Gagetown (where the Tories used to have a strong hold but did not hold from 1987-1999 and lost 2 to 1 in 2003) where Jack Carr (brother of Jody) and Steve McCready (son of fromer MLA Robert)
  • Charlotte-Campobello where the Liberals think Tony Huntjens is vunerable
  • Tantramar where the incumbent is retiring and where Liberals, Tories and NDPers have won before
That is an interesting list from the TJ but one where I think a lot of the ridings they are talking about are not that vunerable. I'll produce my preliminary list later this week.


Spinks said...

Thanks for the list. I haven't seen the TJ yet. Just one point of truth in advertising. I know Brewer is leader of the NDP but for the TJ to call that rifing an all-star fight? Give me a break. A monkey could run againt Brewer and win. Maybe they're just being nice to Brewer. She will finish a distant third. I'm just surprised that the NDP themselves don't see that which just proves how out of touch with voters they are.

Anonymous said...

Bernard Lord may be up in(on) poles currently but he has hit the bottom on his luck – poles you see on the street side with high voltage. You cannot fool all the people all the time. His failures are simply too many. On social programs he gets F or whatever below that can be. We, the taxpayers, are left holding the bag for over $2 billion because of Orimulsion fiasco. Highway tolls and it is going to toll for him this time. He screwed up on child-care by siding with slippery slope champion Harper and same goes for some other issues where both deserve lack of social conscience diploma.

Yes Shawn Graham can use some dynamism but any alternative to Bernie Lord will be welcome news for NBers.

Brenda the Offenda welcome to the rotunda of the political neverland.

Tony Huntjens should be sent to babblers’ colony somewhere – Confederation Of Renegades also known as COR.

Spinks said...

I'll agree on everything anon says except two. While I don't agree with the highway tolls issue, it was a promise Lord made in '99 that voters knew very well. To back out he would have been called a liar. People voted him in, he kept his promise and even the Liberals have said they wouldn't put the tolls back. I think it cost us but I wasn't blindsided and neither should any voter be.

On child care, Lord did the right thing for New Brunswick. I don't love Harper's plan but it is the one which is the most fair. Due to N.B.s rural nature and so many parents working shift work, Martin's plan didn't work for a full 2/3 of N.B. parents. The Harper plan certainly isn't wonderful but every single parent in N.B (and Canada) receives some benefit. The Liberals and NDP's plan would have seen lots of parents (in fact the majority) receive zilch. We can argue about the pros and cons but there can be no doubt that Harper's was fair for all Canadians not just some.
If you're a parent who was looking for subsidized daycare or a daycare operator who was looking to hire more staff, you won't be happy and I understand why however, in the interest of fairness, Lord did the right thing in that particular case.

Anonymous said...

Come on, how about some talk about policies, don't we already have enough 'chatter' from the Irving papers who are allergic to actual content (and you were doing so well).

What, we're supposed to believe that Jesus Hisself came down and told people how people were going to vote? Get real, there are a million variables and people can change their mind on a whim.

To remind any newcomers, the last poll that had tories ahead spoke to a grand total of less than 1% of the population. Out of that, almost half were voting NDP or had no idea how/if they would vote.

Its a very weird mindset that I'm not even going to try to understand that claims a party is 'out of touch' with voters. Obviously they aren't out of touch with NDP voters. And if they had the same ideas as the other parties then there wouldn't be much point in having a separate party.

As far as the NDP goes,the one thing that this race will show is that with the two parties so close last election, its clear that in most ridings every vote counts. Which means this election will prove that most non-voters would tend ot vote NDP but don't because they know their party doesn't have a chance. That's not 'party politics' or 'being out of touch', thats just a F*&^ed up electoral system that every other democracy in the world has abandoned except Canada.

Hooray, we're the least representative democracy in the world!

Politics is not a game, peoples lives hang in the balance, and talking about it as if voters are pucks that are simply 'handled' by political strategists does a great disservice to what little democracy exists.

The only constant in this election is the one overhanging determinant that nobody ever likes to talk about, and that's that no party or leader that the Irvings don't like ever gets into power. Old KC said it, and even little Louis knew he wasn't going to win a third time. That was the last time New Brunswickers voted for a candidate Irvings didn't endorse, and the only one that comes remotely close now is the NDP-which is of course why they never get coverage.

So vote and debate away, in the end it doesn't matter who you vote for, they're both head of the Irving Party. They just wear different coloured ties to work.

Spinks said...

Polls aside (mike?!?) unless you're hanging out with an exclusive NDP crowd, it's pretty clear they're going to get trounced under Brewer. If they come in 2nd in 3 ridings they should call it a victory. Anything more than that is gravy. Unless they have something steller that will make enough NBers want to vote for them, they'll continue to be in the political hinterland. They're still out of touch except with a minority (and growing smaller) of voters. Most people just don't embrace socialism in Canada and for those that do the Liberals have been squatting further to the Left to grab those voters, thus pulling them away from the NDP.

Anonymous said...

In fact far MORE canadians embrace socialism than the alternative, which is why so much energy is put into the two party system. Check the other thread where the discussion is on gas regulation, that's right out of the NDP playbook, certainly not something that jives with a conservative ideology. Likewise one of the big issues is energy, which was rarely discussed but many people were seriously pissed when Lord tried to sell Lepreau. The Liberals have stated clearly that power is to remain public, and in this age of energy uncertainty thats sure to play well with anybody looking at their energy bill.

Likewise we saw an ALL party committee that recommended public insurance, that included conservative members. That was because virtually every presenter except the ontario insurance company heads were strongly in favour of it.

In fact, in most polls canadians want even further regulation than parties are addressing. As said before, the NDP is NOT a socialist party, not even close. In Canada, having 'government controlled' industries is not much different than when the soviet union had state owned industry. If the control is not in the hands of the PEOPLE, and not representatives, then it isn't socialism.

But as said, the NDP has far closer ties to the needs of most New Brunswickers, which is why so much energy is put into fighting proportional representation in this country. It's not a matter of being 'out of touch', thats as ridiculous as saying 'conservatives are out of touch with liberals'.

As said before, when a party that most connects with your way of thinking has zero chance of winning, then you might as well not vote. About 20% don't in New Brunswick, but many choose the lesser of two evils, which is vote for the guy least likely to screw you over as bad as the other, or at least vote NDP or Grey or independant. I suspect most of those are people just 'doing their duty', and don't actually expect their candidate to win. Just go take a look at spending. In New Brunswick, virtually every winning candidate has been the one spending the most money.

Again, we've seen no analysis of the NDP platform, so how do you even know they are 'out of touch'. The NDP simply isn't heard of in this Irving controlled Media land. They've been constant at about 10% for about the last ten elections that I checked, which isn't getting smaller, its pretty constant.

However, in politics that doesn't necessarily mean they are out of touch, that's basic political science. The same holds true at the federal level, if a voter despises Stephen Harper and the conservatives, then they will vote liberal because of the alternative of having a conservative government if they vote NDP.

That doesn't mean the NDP is out of touch, again, thats one of the vagaries of having an electoral system that was designed in the mid 1800's. Canadians, indeed even americans, have heavy majorities that not only want government controlled healthcare, but even want it expanded. In reality, the vast majority of the world in virtually every poll heavily favours 'socialism' and even government controlled social programs that are not even remotely controlled by their citizens, such as in Canada.

And my name's not Mike.

scott said...

Great list.

BTW, You're right spinks.

My prediction: The NDP will have their worst showing in over two decades. They are weak at leader, they have positioned themselves, to their own peril, on one...well maybe two divisive issues[same sex marriage & abortion] Do they not realize that New Brunswick is a very religious and conservative province socially? Not only that, they have traditionally been in the basement when it comes to party funds. So therefore, they will not be able to compete with other parties with regards to signage and messaging.

Also, they have a weak team surrounding a weak leader. Bad combo. Why do I know this? In my riding of Tantramar, the NDP are touting Virgil Hammock as one of their star candidates. I know him personally, and to be fair he is not a bad guy, but he knows absolutely nothing about partisan politics, nor does he know how to run a campaign. A STAR HE IS NOT!

It's going to be ugly for them.

Anonymous said...

Did the sun rise from the west today because I tend to agree with Spinks.

6:14 PM I have no problem accepting the ideology you are purporting to be NDP ideology but I think messengers for that ideology are quite weak including Ms. Brewer. It looks they will have zip seat in the legislature next time around under the current electoral system. And that does have something to do with being out of touch as NDP leadership is unable to reach the public in N.B.

Spinks said...

Well not-Mike, (sorry buddy, it's the anonymous thing, it gets confusing to keep names straight) if so many Canadians embrace socialism and the NDP are not a socialist party, perhaps they should consider moving in that direction. It might help them a bit. At least they might connect with more voters. They make a pretty decent opposition but as far as government goes, they freak me out probably as much as Harper freaks you out. I'm too much of a capitalist who doesn't like getting taxed up the wazoo (more than now I mean) which is probably why I can't see ever supporting the NDP. Provincially I couldn;t do it because Brewer has screwed up this province enough, let alone giving her even a single seat. I doubt I have to worry. I suspect she'll have plenty of foot in mouth disease during the campaign.

Anonymous said...

Boy people sure jump to conclusions. Conservatives don't 'freak me out' at all. I'm not gay, native, have lots of money, and couldn't care less about gun control.

I've never voted NDP, so that analysis isn't personal opinion. As said, try to find a media article on the New Brunswick NDP-anywhere. In fact, from the nomination her name hasn't even been mentioned even one tenth the number of times as the others. The plain fact is that in NB, people are AFRAID to run for the NDP.

No media attention makes it hard to push ANY policy. Elizabeth Weir got media attention, but not that much and it took a lot of work. I've often suspected that the provincial NDP is simply run by a co op of liberal and conservative party members who simply want to keep them as also rans.

However, as said, all over the world people are leaning away from capitalist centred ideologies for quite obvious reasons. I'm certainly not saying everybody does, and don't really care what individuals believe, its pretty irrelevant.

In North America there is strong political movement away from democracy. In the states the homeland security act is basically designed to 'federalize the states', something which is facing massive opposition from both republicans and democrats.

In Canada it is similar. In fact, during the last election you couldn't get the NDP to even talk foreign policy. For example, the NDP child care policy was far more comprehensive than either the tory or grit policy, and it met large scale public approval by parent organizations. Go back and look at media coverage of the election, it was very soft on the NDP, most 'editorials' were of the stripe "what happened to the NDP" variety, yet even with that they made their biggest gains since the seventies.

Take a look at the Alliance Party, under Stockwell Day they had as many votes as Stephen Harper. However, media coverage slammed them the whole way through because of their policy of Citizens Initiatives. Thats something that simply couldn't be tolerated-Canadians actually involved in their governance. The press was absolutely vehement, however, once the conservatives dropped it, the press (except the Toronto Star) was absolutely ebullient with praise.

But back to NB, there is simply no way to prove 'out of touch'. If they are out of touch I assume it is because they get no coverage and nobody knows about them. These are political blogs yet there is virtually no mention of policy, just going on and on that 'they will never win because they are out of touch'. That's a personal opinion and people are welcome to it, but nobody will buy it without proof.

As said, 20% don't vote, 10% vote for NDP in NB. That's not unsubstancial, especially considering that they have no chance-not because they are 'out of touch' but simply because of the electoral system. If this were any other country, at least 6 seats in NB would be NDP. In fact, it would be FAR higher, since the non voters would actually have a reason to show up at the polls.

I suspect, though I don't know, that people may be right that they will of course not win any seats. However, not for the reasons given. As said, if they were 'out of touch' then other parties wouldn't be stealing their policies. Clearly they are MORE in touch than the other parties.

But simply the choice is 'why vote for the NDP if they can't win'? Its a self fulfilling prophecy.

Anonymous said...

You can go to

to actually see the NDP policies. A good many are highly favourable to New Brunswickers. In fact, many are industry recommendations, just not Irving, and often not owners.

However,most workers in NB would favour most of those things. Certainly not all the policies are favourable, but clearly they show that they are not 'out of touch', they are just invisible, and for a reason.

nbpolitico said...

Whoa - quite a debate.

I, unlike most of my readers, do not think it is necessarily doomsday for the NDP. I think with the right candidates they can win a few seats in the north this time around but due to no help from their leader who I agree is a walking disaster.

The situtation in the north is one were the voters are double-time fed up with Lord and are underwhelmed by Graham. Those factored with tight provincial race could allow the NDP a few up-the-middle victories if they have strong candidates. In 1999, when the NDP ran a strong slate in the north, they came close in a number of contests and that was during a Tory sweep, the same circumstances in a tight campaign would guarantee them a few victories.

Anonymous said...

Spinks, we will agree to disagree on child-care. A good day care is essential when we live in a society where both parents are working. That is the reality of our society although it will be ideal that one of the parents is home all the time to cater to the needs of children. Surely rural folks can use daycare too with qualified personnel.

On the issue of Highway tolls: If Bernard Lord was smart, which he never was, his government would have issued passes to local folks and made hundreds of millions from the out of Province vehicles. It would have taken care of our roads for a long time to come. Now we are subsidizing all those tourist, other vehicles and transports, from Ontario, Quebec and elsewhere, which are headed to P.E.I and Nova Scotia anyway. Especially with better roads they zoom right through. End result cuts on healthcare and other essential services. Just to win the election in ’99 Bernie sold us and sold the future of our children and their children. Sooner this man is deported to the political wilderness better for all the New Brunswickers.

nbpolitico, by posting on Spinks blog your brought few visitors. May be you should thank Spinks.

Spinks, I am the anon you do not call Mike.

nbpolitico said...

Some rightful thanks to spinks for the traffic!

Anonymous said...

I came from the 'politicsnb' site, so perhaps a thanks there is in order. To build up traffic though, email Charles Leblanc who always supports new blogs.

There are some good comments, but are light when it comes to claims of how people will vote. That people in the north are 'underwhelmed' by Graham hasn't been supported. Who said this? Where? Perhaps some people somewhere are underwhelmed, just like some people no doubt are happy with Lord up there. There's no knowing til the votes come in.

I'm not sure where in the 99 election the poster above thinks the NDP came close. According to the official tally, the only one I could find that was even a horse race for the NDP had them 700 votes behind the leader in a 6500 vote count. Thats a big number to overcome.

Being unimpressed by the two parties isn't likely to bring in an NDPer, as said, you are wasting your vote unless there has been a HUGE cash spending and ad campaign in a riding which the NDP simply can't afford.

They are so far back in every riding that there is simply no point in voting them in. Even if they were to win the riding, its simply a guarantee that the party in power makes sure your riding gets screwed over on every investment.

However, cumulatively, New Brunswickers support is at 10%, so as said, anywhere else they'd have 6 seats, and in a minority government that would give them a lot of clout. Which is why there is so much pressure against actual proportional representation.

Me Doug

nbpolitico said...

anon at 3:14 ("Me Doug")...

When I said the NDP "came close in a number of contests" in 1999, close is a relative term that requires some more thorough analysis that I will provide as we move one.

One example: Nepisiguit in 1999 --

38% pc
34% lib
28% ndp

That is not necessarily close at first glance (though it is a lot closer than they usually get) a more thorough analysis shows the potential.

The PC vote in 1995 was 30% and the NDP was 11%; in 2003 it was PC 33% (for an incumbent) and NDP 14%.

This shows that the NDP vote is traditionally very low (10% to low teens) while the PCs seem to have a floor of about 30%.

When you factor in that most accounts will say that a lot of the unusually high vote the PCs got in the north in 1999 was due to a desire to put the boots to the government, it is unlikely for the Tories to do any better than their floor (and perhaps sink below it) in this riding in 2006. If the NDP ran as strong of a candidate as they did in 1999, one would presume s/he would do as well so that puts the votes at about 30% each for the PC and NDP in Nepisiguit in this hypothetical situation. If the Liberals don't have a good candidate lined up (which they probably don't due to the uncertainty around Branch and whether or not he will run again) then this would be a distinct possibility for an NDP win.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, if you want to put money on it I'll take some of that. Take a look at 2003 election when they got slaughtered. Having 700 votes between you and the winner seven years ago isn't actually a tactical advantage.

Spinks said...

Hey not-mike, I think we're actually pretty close to agreement on daycare. You're right, ideally one of the parents should be home with the kids (obviously). We'd probably have a lot fewer problems with wayward children. However today's economy often demands both parents' work so childcare is needed. Here's the rub. You and I as taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for the daycare of every single person who puts children in government sanctioned daycare. Why should we have to pay for two lawyers who are hauling in $400,000 a year while another couple who have made the tough choice for one of them to stay at home to raise the kids receive zilcho.

The Government's role, in my mind, is to ensure that minimum standards are maintained in daycares to ensure our children's safety. They should also subsidize daycare for parents or a parent below a certain income level, and THAT'S IT. I don't like any of the party's daycare schemes including the Conservatives. All taxpayers shouldn't have to be paying parents daycare money because they want to have a new Lexus or vacation to Brazil. Many families could afford to have one of the parents stay at home to raise the kids but it would mean a change in their lifestyle. Both options are of course their choices but the entire country shouldn't have to pay for it.

nbpolitico said...

anon at 7:53 - the difference between 1999 and 2003 is that in 1999 they had strong candidates and in 2003 they had, in many northern ridings, paper candidates and in other lackluster ones. I have not at any point said that the NDP will win seats. I have said that *IF* they have strong candidates, like in 1999 and *IF* it is a close election like in 2003 then they *MIGHT* have a chance of winning some seats notwithstanding their poor leadership and dismal chances province wide.

Anonymous said...

LOL, then you might as well say "IF they win they will win!" The trouble is, everybody has a different idea of what a 'strong' candidate is. Especially if you don't live in the area. There are 6500 people there voting, what each of them sees as reasons how they vote is pretty much a mystery. Somebody may well be a very strong candidate-but only for some of the people. Somebody else may have a lot of 'notoriety' but that doesn't necessarily translate.

Those kind of analysis are much easier after the fact. For example, in 1999 when the NDP got far more votes, you can say 'they had a better candidate' because almost a thousand voters more voted for them then. However, that can't be PROVEN. There are literally dozens, probably thousands of possible reasons why a vote can change. I suspect if Jesus were running as an NDP candidate there are still lots who would say "why vote for him, the NDP never wins".

The odds of there being an individual in any riding that a majority of people will want to represent them even though they know it ......

Actually, I just had a thought, and you may be right. If the NDP were to actually have the brains to incorporate into their strategy the fact that

1. Last election was very close
2. The same two individuals are running
3. Polls show them fairly close

Therefore, an NDP candidate in your riding could very well have the power in a close to minority government.

In fact, if TWO or three were to win, then in a 27-26 legislature they'd hold the balance and considerable power (maybe)

The question is, have they thought of that, and perhaps we should let them know.

nbpolitico said...

It is a good question, I don't know whether they've thought of that or not.

However, I don't think you are right in your definition of a strong candidate. In 2003, they ran candidates who had no name recognition and in some cases were not from the region, didn't speak the language and never campaigned. In 1999, they had candidates who were involved in their communities and, in ridings with 6500 voters as you point out, being known in the community can sometimes trump the party label, particularly in rural ridings. That coupled with the popularity of Yvon Godin, were he to get engaged in some of the races and it is not hard to imagine an NDP.

Moreover, you say that there is only a slim chance a majority of voters would ever back an NDP candidate. I agree. But in a tight race you only need 34% to win, not 50%+1

Anonymous said...

True enough, and well presented. My leaning is simply due to the inability to predict how many people vote for a person, and how many for a party. Say you have somebody local, who speaks the language, everybody knows them, but lets say that the liberals are talking about public insurance, while the tories are ignoring it. I can't remember where I saw the story about the old woman up north who was pushing around a wheelbarrow that said she couldn't afford insurance.

Suddenly the local guy is no longer the best choice. If its not public insurance it could well be something else-depending on the voter and whats going on in the community.

In this election, there isn't a huge policy standout, so provided other things are equal and the area has been screwed over to too large an extent, with a 'well known and respected candidate and the right campaign its possible. However, those are a LOT of variables. And true to form, I haven't heard a thing from the NDP. If I got an Irving paper I think I'd actually measure the inch space and page numbers for all the various parties to see just how 'objective' they are.