Tuesday, October 27, 2009
ON THE GOVERNMENT SIDE: A SUPRISE WOULD BE NICE BUT I DO NOT SEE IT
The polls are open and all three parties are getting their identified vote out to the polls. This will be an election where organization will be key to the outcome. From what I understand all three parties feel like there is an opportunity for a win in this by-election.
Predictions are a tough racket. They are even harder to make when you are not on the ground. I think the Liberals have a great candidate, and god knows we could use a stronger opposition in the House of Assembly.
Since confederation this seat has traditionally been one of the reddest seats on the island. That changed in 2001 when the former federal NDP candidate, and local fisherman Trevor Taylor, ran as a Progressive Conservative in a by-election that was triggered by the departure of Premier Brian Tobin. It was one of two by-election wins in Liberal strongholds on the Northern Peninsula that night for the then-opposition Tories, as Wally Young took the St. Barbe seat. The wins were significant for the tories and provided momentum which has not subsided even to this day.
I remember those by-elections well. If someone had the time to dig up some of the media articles related to that campaign you will find some similar themes to this current by-election. The government was on top of the polls and governemnt was spending money on projects all over the peninsula trying to buy the vote. You could not go to a community in either seat, and not trip over a cabinet minister, MHA or a liberal staffer. Money was pouring out of Municipal and Provincial Affairs as fast as it could be printed! Surely the governing liberals could not lose in the Straits. They did, and the rest is history.
In fairness, I should provide some perspective. The Liberal leader at the time was interim Premier Beaton Tulk and Danny Williams had announced he was seeking the Progressive Conservative leadership. The results were a bad omen of the times to come for the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Back to predictions. Yes we need a stronger opposition but what is in it for the Straits - White Bay North to switch sides? The government is strong and enjoys vast public support. Voters in St. Anthony and the White Bay area have been served well. Even the Liberal candidate's business has benefited from the William's Government's Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Fund. The Flowers Cove issue has been addressed. There is still the issue with school closures, but on the whole this election has served the interests of the district well.
Progressive Conservative Rick Pelly is Trevor Taylor's former executive assistant. He can simply pick up where he left off when his boss departed. Business as usual. Without the fate of the government in balance, my money is on the majority of the 6,783 eligible voters who bother to vote sticking to the government side. Who could blame them.
Posted by Peter L. Whittle