The Weekly Writ for Aug. 10
A new leader in New Brunswick, how a Charest-led party might do and a journalist jumps into politics.
Welcome to the Weekly Writ, a round-up of the latest federal and provincial polls, election news and political history that lands in your inbox every Wednesday morning.
Provincial and federal politics are different beasts — we all agree on that. But I do think that what happens in the provinces doesn’t stay in the provinces. There are more connections between federal and provincial politics and parties than we sometimes admit.
So, the selection of a new female leader for New Brunswick’s Liberals is something worth noting, for a couple of reasons. The first ministers’ table these days doesn’t have a lot of gender diversity. Having more female leaders in positions where they might possibly make the jump from opposition leader to government leader one day — Rachel Notley in Alberta, Carla Beck in Saskatchewan, Dominique Anglade in Quebec and now Susan Holt in New Brunswick — is a good thing.
Secondly, the federal parties need provincial success. On a recent episode of The Herle Burly, Brian Topp argued that when federal parties run into trouble, they need to go back to the provinces to build up some momentum again. The NDP has some strong provincial parties in Western Canada, so a bad federal election is never fatal. Even in the darkest days of the 1990s for the federal NDP, the party was still in power in B.C. and Saskatchewan.
Take the Liberals between their near-death experience in 2011 and their victory in 2015. Between those years they were re-elected with a majority in Ontario and defeated the Parti Québécois in Quebec. By the end of 2015, they governed all four Atlantic provinces.
Liberal provincial strength in central and eastern Canada balances out their weakness in the West. It’s the opposite for the NDP. The Conservatives have footholds in every region.
But if the Liberals get booted from office in the next few years, going back to the provinces could prove difficult. The Ontario Liberals are in deep trouble after two elections where they failed to win enough seats to be recognized at Queen’s Park. The Quebec Liberals face an existential threat as francophones abandon them. The Liberals in Nova Scotia were just removed from office and in P.E.I. they have been displaced by the Greens. Only in Newfoundland and Labrador and in New Brunswick does a provincial Liberal party lead in most polls.
This doesn’t provide a lot of opportunity for Liberals to cut their teeth in successful provincial election campaigns and gain experience in government. The cadres of future staffers, organizers, strategists and candidates need to come from somewhere.
Justin Trudeau could use a little help from his provincial friends these days to buttress the Liberal brand. He gained a new one last week.
That brings me to this installment of the Weekly Writ, in which I analyze Susan Holt’s victory in New Brunswick and give an update to the 2022 Prediction Contest. (Spoiler: only one entrant predicted Holt’s win.) And, sticking to New Brunswick for the #EveryElectionProject this week, we’re off to 1925 and the defeat of the province’s first Acadian premier.
We have some new mayoral polls for Winnipeg, Vancouver and Surrey, along with more numbers out of Quebec showing the CAQ on track for a big victory. That’s good news for a star candidate the CAQ has landed, which I discuss in this week’s riding profile.
Finally, I take a look at a new poll that gives us an indication of how a separate Jean Charest-led party might do.
Let’s get to it!