Election realities

I see that New Brunswickers are bothered by being ignored in the federal election campaign.   If you look at the riding by riding numbers it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.    There are only three ridings where the spread is less than 10 points and many ridings have a 30-40 point spread.  Why fight a losing battle?   Think about poor Alberta.  There was a lady on the radio saying they don’t even have lawn signs in Calgary.

It seems to me the fight is on just to keep PM Harper in a minority position.    The best predictions now have him now teetering on a majority government.

Other than Lepreau, NB doesn’t have many big ticket asks in front of the Feds similar to the hydro-electric project in NL or the shipyard in NS.     Lepreau is not about some grand vision for New Brunswick/Federal relations – it’s a legal battle about who should pay for the cluster schtook that is the refurbishment.

Maybe NB needs to think up a few grand moves to get someone’s attention.

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19 Responses to Election realities

  1. mikel says:

    Actually, what you need is a REGIONAL party, like the Bloc or Reform. Maybe all the Irving coverage of “NB getting shafted” will have an effect, but right now with the mishmash that is Atlantic representation, of course the feds won’t listen.
    However, keep in mind this is also a pattern. With much shorter election campaigns, interrupted by debates where all parties can’t even join in, its a very ‘managed’ production. This riding was held by a liberal right up until the last election, where he lost by 17 votes. Yes, thats right, SEVENTEEN votes. Yet NO party leader has bothered to visit this riding either. From what I’ve seen they are mostly in Quebec.
    Hopefully this recent scandal about the G8 will have some resonance. It’s getting to the point where its quite scary. Harper has racked up more scandals with a minority government in five years than the liberals did with a majority in over a decade yet polls still show Harper way ahead.

  2. I don’t study democracies in great detail but it does seem to me that in countries that have ongoing coalition governments, regional parties can play an important role. If Canada remains in a coalition mood, maybe regional parties will emerge. I guess the rhetorical question would be whether or not the Atlantic provinces have some kind of common thread that binds it together politically?

  3. A Giroux says:

    Hello David,

    Oddly enuf I just heard from a very reputable source that Mr. Harper himself is scheduled to make an announcement at the Charlo airport next wednesday. This is currently a Liberal riding held by J.C. D’amour. Have you heard about any of this?

  4. scott says:

    Maybe we should join TILMA since the power shift seems to be moving from east to west?

  5. mikel says:

    It’s not hypothetical because take that other ‘regional’ party-Reform. Senate reform was one of their main features, but its not like nobody in the maritimes would like to see an elected senate. Reform was about ‘smaller government’, well, take a look at recent press since Alward was elected, you’d think NB was full of libertarians.
    However, Reform was constantly ‘seen’ as a western based party, and just that perception helped it get elected out west. It was the ‘protest vote’, and even though it helped the liberals get majority governments, people kept putting them in.
    In the east its even more concrete because unlike the west, which mostly has pretty stable and ‘profitable’ provinces, easterners have the pocketbook that instantly ‘binds’ together. However, its a mistake to think it will ‘naturally’ occur, it takes hard work to organize a political party or movement, and a lot of dedication. It’s no irony that Preston Manning started the Reform Party DURING the tenure of Brian Mulroney and the conservatives, which was pretty friendly towards the west.
    Coalition governments by nature have to share power, which gives more clout to EVERYBODY-whether they are regional parties, religious parties, or environmental parties. The success and nature of each is highly dependant on the country though, Italy and Israel are often considered political basket cases, and its also easier in many countries to get religious parties with more clout.
    It’s during ‘dark times’ that people often DEMAND political change, so we’ll see…

  6. Don Dennison says:

    David, you’ve hit on an interesting point. Why don’t we have a big ‘ask’on the table. Chris Baker is right (April 12, UNB Forum on Changing NB) we’re much too reasonable and accommodating. The days of “one for all and all for one”, if they ever did exist in Canada, are long gone.

  7. richard says:

    “Why don’t we have a big ‘ask’on the table.”

    Good question. But that point has been raised several times on this blog. NB has to have a serious discussion internally about what we want – based on past ‘requests’ from our leaders, what we are asking for is more of the same.

    NB, with or w/o its Maritime partners, has to develop its own realistic ED strategy. Cutting taxes and hoping for the best has not worked; pumping money (ours and the feds) into low-wage sectors has not worked.

  8. Paul says:

    I have to disagree with Mikel because another regional party is exactly what we don’t need.

    Instead of spending all that time and money on a regional party, what I people should spend their energy on promoting electoral reform. In my riding of Acadie Bathurst, like the lady in Alberta, you wouldn’t hardly know there was an election. Everyone, including the other parties, have ceded the seat to Yvon Godin. He won the last election with over 57% of the popular vote, so who can blame them. People don’t care and I predict low voter turnout. (Yvon, by the way, is a great constituency politician and helps a lot of people, which is what makes him popular.)

    However, if we had some sort of proportional representation, then people would become more engaged if they knew their vote would be represented in Parliament in some way. It would make political parties more national in thinking, and then perhaps our tiny voice or our regional issues might have a larger impact in a election campaign

    As it sits, it doesn’t matter that I am an undecided voter. Because of our first past the post electoral system, my vote will have no impact on the outcome of the election.

  9. Paul says:

    I have to disagree with Mikel because another regional party is exactly what we don’t need.

    Instead of spending all that time and money on a regional party, what I people should spend their energy on promoting electoral reform. In my riding of Acadie Bathurst, like the lady in Alberta, you wouldn’t hardly know there was an election. With all due respect to his opponents, everyone, including the other political parties, have ceded the seat to Yvon Godin. He won the last election with over 57% of the popular vote, so who can blame them. People don’t care and I predict low voter turnout. (Yvon, by the way, is a great constituency politician and helps a lot of people, which is what makes him popular.)

    However, if we had some sort of proportional representation, then people would become more engaged if they knew their vote would be represented in Parliament in some way. It would make political parties more national in thinking, and then perhaps our tiny voice or our regional issues might have a larger impact in a election campaign.

    As it sits, it doesn’t matter that I am an undecided voter. Because of our first past the post electoral system, my vote will have no impact on the outcome of the election.

  10. Anon says:

    I agree we should have a big ask on the table. We are far too polite accepting hockey rink upgrades while other regions are beneficiaries of multi decade commitments to build or sustain industries like automotive and aerospace or financing help for a mega hydro project or a lucrative oil and gas royalty deal.

    We are frequently criticized for our dependence on natural resources and I have heard suggestions that we need to abandon these industries. This criticism may be warranted where we have failed to modernize and invest. However, we should consider that our natural resources can be a competitive advantage. There are some examples where we have employed science and technology to modernize and become competitive. Two that come to mind are reducing dependence on traditional wild fisheries by developing aquaculture or moving from low grade papers to higher value dissolving pulp.

    We could easily come up with other (perhaps better) examples but I am suggesting our ask should be a natural resource modernization fund for industry-led initiatives to modernize traditional natural resource industries. This would be focused on exporters and would require substantial productivity improvement or substantially increased value add to the product. It should be a multi-year commitment of significant scale (something like the Feds’ $250 million automotive innovation fund). That’s one idea, any others?

  11. mikel says:

    Paul, you essentially just proved my point. First of all, we are talking about two different things. In a federal election NOBODY is talking about electoral reform. I fully support proportional representation and presented at the NB Committee and did a lot of work on the Ontario referendum. However, during a federal election there is NO talk about PR. Fairvote Canada has almost NO representation in NB, so by all means I encourage everybody to join.
    But people winning by large margins is a different story. It’s interesting to note that while polls constantly show lack of respect for politicians in general, polls also consistently show people have a very different opinion of their OWN local representative. What that says I don’t know, but I”m not here badmouthing how good/bad a certain politician does (or even how that can be measured-is the amount of cash a politician can bring to the riding really the best democratic measure? For many its the ONLY measure).

    However, as for Bathurst, I’ll again use our local representative. Until last election it was a liberal member-and remember that Waterloo is a pretty ‘educated’ city. Two elections ago the tory candidate was an immigrant from, I don’t know, but he was Sikh, I think. He got blown out of the water. There was a 20,000 vote difference between the liberal winner and him but the last election was Peter Braid, a good german name in a good german town. And that’s where the liberal candidate LOST by 17 votes. So just because somebody SEEMS secure means little. This time, partly because I hate majority governments, I almost put a liberal sign out on my lawn! (and I’ve NEVER voted for the liberal party until now, and the idea of it almost makes me sick).

    Which brings us to the last point, which is part of the problem in the maritimes. It’s that WITHOUT such representation, everything becomes an ‘ask’. WITH represention, you get DEMANDS. And politicians get a LOT of asks, and when there are no ridings on the line, those asks are going to get diluted by the regions where it IS important. I think I’ve said before that right close to our house the tories have their signs up for ‘local work projects’ which is MILLIONS going to rebuild roads that are far better than most I’ve seen in NB.

    But there needs to be something to ask FOR. Natural resources are NOT it. Aquaculture and forestry show just how BAD those industries are at development. Cooke Aquaculture has expanded into Chile so they don’t have any regulations, even though NB ones are pretty lax. Wood fibre changes never occurred until the industry was basically bankrupt. Wood has to compete with bamboo-which it can never do.

    The thing about R&D is that EVERYBODY can have a potential idea. Any university student can create a facebook or google with very little knowledge. But there needs to be some organization for that. Again, the local Perimeter Institute is private, funded by the local billionaires, yet it gets more federal money than ALL of NB.

  12. mikel says:

    You should do a blog on the latest election news-your big ‘ask’ has come through from the Liberal Party. It seems that Michael Ignatieff is willing to sit down with David Alward and come to an agreement on cost sharing the ‘damage’ from the Point Lepreau refit. That’s a pretty big ‘get’, although there are no numbers thrown out and its a little scary when the official opposition leader says they “don’t know that much about it”. However, given that Harper has thrown $10 million in the latest scandal at Julian Fantino’s riding to support a NPO that pushes for private health care, instead of the hospital, then its obvious that despite the structural deficit that nobody but the Greens are talking about, the feds have money to throw around.

    So we’ll see how the media and whether politicians in the province pick up and DO anything about having the ‘ask’ answered by the liberals. Is it enough to make a conservative Premier pull a Danny Williams in an attempt to get Harper to play ball? Or will it simply fade away (and if it does, then what does that portend to ANY kind of ‘ask’ of the feds).

  13. I saw that Lepreau promise. Not sure it will translate into votes as the impact of NB Power debt and Lepreau has be hard to define for New Brunswickers. The former government called it apocalyptic and the new government calls it essentially fine and mandated a three year rate electricity rate freeze to prove their point. I think the average voter won’t notice this.

  14. richard says:

    @David Campbell

    “your big ‘ask’ has come through from the Liberal Party.”

    Lepreau is hardly a response to a big ask – it’s the same old, same old. A big ask would be a multi-billion multi-year committment to R&D innovation in NB. That would actually do something positive. Damn little point in bailing out the Lepreau refit costs when GNB is content to ignore NB Power’s debt load.

  15. mikel says:

    Not sure I agree with that, although we really can’t say with votes. But the reality is that a LOT of NBers know a lot more about NBPower finances from last year. Alward just got into power but he’s already had one meeting which was aimed specifically at getting money for Lepreau. So the ‘ask’ isn’t necessarily what Richard thinks it should be. You MAY be right that NBers don’t care, but considering the state of Lepreau, NBPower, and the provincial finances I find it hard to think of WHAT ELSE you might think of as being a big voter issue.
    The rate freeze is only still in effect because Alward knows that THAT promise breaking would have him being tarred and feathered. Its much easier to ‘hope for the best’.
    I’ve almost NEVER seen any interest from ANYWHERE on big investments in R&D innovation, except by the crowd that shouts down any ACOA investments as corporate welfare. So while I agree with Richard that that would be NICE, I don’t agree that the reality of political ‘asks’ are necessarily what me or some other group wants. It is what it is. If this gets more media attention, if the Premier makes a statement about it, then it may make a difference, if some citizen groups take it on like many facebook groups have for this federal election, then it could mean something.
    Its pretty basic math that cost overuns at Lepreau HAVE to be paid for, and the only people to pay that are YOU, the ratepayer. So you really don’t need much more information than that. In a campaign where the biggest news story in the province has been “parties ignore us” then you have to admit that its at least an ISSUE. But maybe its true that NBers are more concerned with fighter jets and prisons, and issues that have almost nothing to do with them.

  16. scott says:

    @David Campbell
    I think the average voter won’t notice this.

    I agree. This is insignificant and hasn’t got the potential to move the votes needed to keep D’Amours’ seat safe or reclaim Saint John. I expect to see ignatieff in Moncton and Shediac maybe one more time looking to keep what he has, especially if the Atlantic gap for his party creeps up above 10 percentage points.

  17. Well, Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe is supposed to be one of the close ridings to watch in this election, but there are few lawn signs and even few roadside signs.

    The dearth of election signs compared to what I saw in Alberta surprised me when I first moved here ten years ago and continues to surprise me. I’ve always assumed it was some sort of Maritime sensibility (the use of the word “offer” to describe running for office is also unique to the Maritimes).

    My guess is that it’s for the same reason the newspaper never runs the address of locations of events. There are no newcomers, so everyone already knows the information. It’s something like, “everybody knows how everybody else is going to vote, so there’s no point putting up signs, they cost too much anyways, and it just creates hard feelings.” Something like that.

  18. richard says:

    “So while I agree with Richard that that would be NICE”

    It isn’t nice, it’s critical. If we have a leadership that is always pandering to the pollsters, we will remain exactly were we are. We need a leadership that can break free of that nonsense. LJR knew how to do that.

  19. mikel says:

    Well, I don’t trust PROFESSIONAL pollsters when they say what sways voters, so nothing personal, but I don’t think I’d give much credence to some anonymous posts on the web. Before you believe what you think you believe though, you may want to check out some of the critics of the media who are talking about how people are going online to get their info from facebook or websites. Several attack webs against Harper apparantly got over two million hits in one day, and one website crashed. In NB though its a self fulfilling prophecy-if nobody ever talks about it, then its more likely it WON”T have an effect. To me personally though, when two parties are fairly close ideologically and ONE of them makes an offer that will affect my pocketbook-that’s the guy I’d be voting for.

    Suffice it to say, NOBODY is omnipotent, either about voters OR the economy. As for what is ‘critical’, well, you don’t KNOW that either. Alward isn’t just blowing beans when he talks about Arkansas- IF there is tons of natural gas in NB and the timing is right and other things fall into place, it COULD be a huge boom. Likewise, R&D is no guarantor of anything either. Maybe if EVERY person were being trained and working in the field, but how likely is that. As I’ve said before, this is probably the R&D capital of eastern canada, but there is still lots of poverty and its growing, there is a large and growing underclass of uneducated, and the unemployment rate for a time was just as high as in NB. So just having a whole bunch of really wealthy people doing research doesn’t cut it.

    Those are interesting comments about the lawn signs. Does anybody know whether that is ALL over the province, or less likely in places with a close race? We never saw signs for quite awhile, but last week is when they really started popping up. Several people I know who really don’t take politics seriously have liberal signs up, and volunteers for the candidate came to my house twice-the first time thats ever happened. The one good thing about the close race is that the liberal candidate USED to take it for granted-but not anymore. Although, again, it really doesn’t make THAT much of a difference whether our local person is blue or red. It’s when Lazaridis makes a call for co paying on something that the feds jump.

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