Election 2021 Newfoundland

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jerrym
Election 2021 Newfoundland

Premier Andrew Furey has called an election for Saturday February 13th. 

Liberal Leader Andrew Furey has officially announced a general election in Newfoundland and Labrador. Voters will head to the polls on Feb. 13, a Saturday — a first for an election in the province.

Furey, at a kickoff rally at Confederation Building on Friday evening, referenced the province's ballooning debt, struggling oil industry and vast public service spending as he announced the election. "[At] no other time in our history has any generation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians faced such a challenge," he said. "There is no precedent except the one we will set together." ...

New Democratic Party Leader Alison Coffin said Friday she'll campaign on the promise of bringing the priorities of every resident to the forefront, ensuring their needs are addressed in the legislature. 

The NDP harbours concerns about affordability and the health-care system, she said.

The provincial Tories are running a campaign on job growth, which leader Ches Crosbie characterizes as a plan to get the economy back on track.  ...

Furey was required by provincial law to call an election within 12 months of being sworn in as premier.  However, the likelihood of Furey's decision to call an election now — in the middle of both an unpredictable North Atlantic winter and a pandemic — has already come under fire from both the Opposition Tories and the NDP, who have both said the governing Liberals should wait for the premier's economic recovery team, chaired by Moya Greene, to report first. 

A progress report from the recovery team, outlining recommendations for dealing with public services and an escalating debt, is not expected until the end of February. Its final report is due April 30.  ....

As of 4 p.m. Friday, the Liberals have issued 33 news releases in 36 hours.  On Friday alone, various departments made cash commitments to the tune of at least $31,182,500. Liberal politicians have promised that money to technology start-ups, municipalities and tourism operators, among other interested parties. The costs related to medical program expansions also announced Friday, including an insulin pump subsidy for low-income adults, are not included in that figure. The amount also doesn't include any costs associated with wage and salary increases in four collective bargaining agreements struck this week, on the brink of an expected election call.  The Liberal government now has agreements in place with CUPE, the Association of Allied Health Professionals and private ambulance operators, and a tentative agreement with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association. ...

Despite the challenges of campaigning in winter weather and amid COVID-19 restrictions, both the PCs and the NDP have told CBC they are ready to campaign. Campaign chairs for the three major parties have indicated they will rely more on social media, and less on traditional means of reaching voters, such as door-to-door canvassing. Large-scale rallies will not be happening, nor will such staples as campaign stops at seniors' homes. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/general-election-ca...

jerrym

Based on the latest polls both the PCs and NDP will be facing an uphill fight. The last three polls show an increasing lead for the Liberals.

                                                     Lib      PC       NDP

MQO Research Dec. 23          65        23         11

Narrative Research 3             58         26         13

Angus Reid                              50          39          8

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Newfoundland_and_Labrador_general_ele...

However in three polls between August 2019 and February 2020, the NDP had 24%, 24%, and 26%, the last one just before Covid became a global problem, showing how the virus has increased the government's popularity as in other provinces compared to previous polls. 

Therefore the biggest thing the Liberals have going for them is the low number of cases and deaths from Covid, although this is a function of being an Atlantic province, where cases of covid have been generally low in the region and of being mostly an isolated island and remote mainland area (Labrador) where just 394 cases and 4 deaths have occurred. In other provinical elections, being preceived to have done a good job has resulted in large victories by the governing party, regardless of political stripe. I therefore expect a large Liberal win.

However, "Furey ... referenced the province's ballooning debt, struggling oil industry and vast public service spending" in the last post in the CBC article, providing the NDP with an opening that the people need an opposition that will hold the government to account for failures on other issues and to counteract a post-election  large cuts in government programs, something Newfoundlanders remember well from the previous Ball Liberal government. 

In terms of preparedness for the election, the NDP is better shape than in 2019 with 13 candidates out of a possible 40 already nominated before the election call compared to having only 14 after nominations closed in 2019. They have a leader in Alison Coffin  who was brand new and unelcted in 2019 but now is known and has shown herself to be a fighter during the last election campaign. If the party can get the election focused on the big non-Covid issues mentioned above, it could win the three seats it now holds and possibly pick up a St. Johns seat, although that will be an uphill fight, especially in Labrador West where Jordan Brown won by 2 votes in 2019.

 

jerrym

 Both the Newfoundland Medical Association and NDP leader Coffin is trying to make health care the central issue in the election campaign. 

The New Democrats kicked off their election campaign in St. John's by pledging to spend more on dental programs for seniors.

Alison Coffin said the party would invest more money in the provincial adult dental care program and give more power to dentists, denturists and dental hygienists to set the program criteria and direction.

"Despite the tremendous need in our province, last year the Liberal government spent less money on adult dental services than on Ed Martin's severance package when he left Nalcor," Coffin said at a press conference in St. John's. ...

That promise, like others the NDP plan to make, comes without a price tag. Coffin told reporters Monday she can't release a costed platform this year because the provincial auditor general's office has not completed a report for the 2019-20 fiscal year. ...

Liberal Leader Andrew Furey also talked seniors' care at an appearance in Corner Brook on Monday, saying his government would work closely with the federal government on long-term care issues.

He also told reporters he is fully committed to seeing a PET scanner at the new Corner Brook hospital, although he didn't commit to a time line on the scanner entering service.

Just before the election, the Liberal government promised $2 million to the Western Regional Hospital Foundation for the purchase of a PET scanner — but history suggests much more will be needed. The commitment also came after the foundation accused the Liberals of breaking a promise, and Health Minister John Haggie saying a scanner isn't needed on Newfoundland's west coast, prompting a protest last week. ...

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association held its own press conference in St. John's, to get their key election issues into the public debate. The association says the province has the worst record in Canada for holding onto its medical graduates, and that has contributed to a big gap in health-care services. Dr. Lynette Powell, who heads the association, said 90,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have no family physician. According to the NLMA, these residents will spend more time in hospital emergency rooms, because they have less contact with the health-care system earlier in their disease progression.

In a letter the association is sending to campaigns, available on its website, it is asking leaders to commit to a plan that would see 75 per cent of Memorial University's family medicine graduates stay in the province.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/election-notebook-2...

 

jerrym

Coffin is also opposed to the $41.5 giveaway to Husky Oil in December by the Trudeau government to keep the "idled West White Rose offshore oil project going, particularly to "protect the option of restarting" in the next year — although there is no guarantee that will happen." while Liberal Premier fully supports it, saying ""Everyone wants a crystal ball, but of course we don't have one and we don't have that certainty," Furey told reporters following the conference." The $41.5 million, which is half the project cost, is in addition to the $325 million the Trudeau government handed the Liberal Newfoundland government in September to support the Newfoundland oil industry, after Husky stopped construction on the project in April due to the low price of oil. More subsidies poured into a sunsetting industry.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan called a strategic investment in the oil industry. When a company cancels a 60% complete project you know its in very bad shape. A strategic plan would actually be to stop throwing good money down the drain trying to keep alive an industry in a slow death spiral. The $41.5 million investment came a few days after Cenovus bought Husky for $4 billion. Cenovus quickly said that all options were on the table and a quick shutdown of the project was possible. Cenovus even admitted that it might walk away from the project as soon as the merger is complete. 

ETA: I'm sure Husky-Cenovus won't walk away from the $41.5 million. I'll also bet they won't announce the cancelling of the project before the February 13th Newfouondland election. After all, Husky-Cenovus wouldn't want to piss off a government that has been so generous to them and other fossil fuel corporations in the past when there is likely more payola coming in the future. All at the same time Trudeau runs on a platform of the #1 global warming fighter. 

On the other hand Coffin, facing reality, said " 'We're putting money into an industry that I don't think is sustainable at all. We're hearing time and time again that the oil industry is in decline.' — Coffin commenting on the $41.5 million in federal funds handed to Husky Energy on Dec. 3, 2020.(https://www.kamloopsthisweek.com/alison-coffin-newfoundland-and-labrador...)

Husky Energy is getting $41.5 million from the Newfoundland and Labrador government to keep the idled West White Rose offshore oil project going, particularly to "protect the option of restarting" in the next year — although there is no guarantee that will happen. ...

It's known as "warm suspension," and it's only an option, not a certainty, that the project will fully restart.

O'Regan called the announcement "one heck of a Christmas surprise for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and their families." He said the announcement was not merely a government handout but instead called it a "strategic investment" in the offshore oil industry, which was thrown into turmoil this spring when the COVID-19 pandemic caused oil prices to plummet. 

The announcement came Thursday morning in a news conference that involved Premier Andrew Furey, provincial Energy Minister Andrew Parsons, federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan and Husky senior vice-president Jonathan Brown. ...

O'Regan called the announcement "one heck of a Christmas surprise for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and their families." He said the announcement was not merely a government handout but instead called it a "strategic investment" in the offshore oil industry, which was thrown into turmoil this spring when the COVID-19 pandemic caused oil prices to plummet. ... O'Regan acknowledged there will not be an entirely smooth road in the coming months.  ...

Following the press conference, NDP Leader Alison Coffin voiced concern over the project's continued precariousness, citing the agreement's reliance on unnamed "conditions. We've been given no idea of what those conditions are," she told reporters Thursday. "Do we have to put even more money into this? Are the conditions that the price of oil has to go up?... We have no guarantees."

That Oil and Gas Industry Recovery Fund was announced Sept. 25, with the federal government allocating $320 million for the N.L. government to support direct and indirect employment. 

The announcement is the latest development in a saga that started in April, when Husky announced it was stopping construction on the project, as the global pandemic battered oil markets. Hundreds of workers were laid off. At the time, the project was nearly 60 per cent complete. ...

That news came just days after Cenovus Energy announced it would buy Husky Energy in a deal worth nearly $4 billion. In a statement, Cenovus said regarding Husky's operations in the province "the WWR [West White Rose] project is key to extending the life of the White Rose field. As we have said before, all options are on the table and accelerating abandonment remains a possibility." ...

That news came just days after Cenovus Energy announced it would buy Husky Energy in a deal worth nearly $4 billion. 

In a statement, Cenovus said regarding Husky's operations in the province "the WWR [West White Rose] project is key to extending the life of the White Rose field. As we have said before, all options are on the table and accelerating abandonment remains a possibility." When asked about Cenovus walking away from the project once the merger is complete, Brown said it's too early to know. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/west-white-rose-1.5...

jerrym

The final candidates list is in, with the Liberals and Cons running a full slate and the NDP running in 33 of the 40 ridings, a large increase from the 14 they ran in 2019, when Coffin was chosen as leader at the last minute. 

The election is finalized. As the Elections NL deadline passed at 2:00 p.m. today, all of the candidates have been confirmed.

The NDP officially announced they are more than doubling their slate in the last election, with candidates in 33 districts.

The Liberals confirmed Thursday that they will be running a full slate, with representation in all 40 districts.

The PC will join the Liberal’s with a full slate of their own, confirming their candidates last weekend.

Over half of the people running for the NDP identify as women or non-binary, while the Liberals have 15 and the PCs have 9.

The NL Alliance has a total of six candidates after party leader Graydon Pelley suspended his campaign due to an emergency surgery, while there are eight Independents.

The full list of candidates can be found on the Elections NL website.

https://vocm.com/2021/01/23/2021-election-slate-finalized/

jerrym

Questions are being raised about why Furey went to the polls in mid-winter during a pandemic with the suspicion being the Furey Liberals are trying to avoid revealing how bad the provinces finances are. Especially after Furey said the province needs tough medicine,  the suspicion if he wins there will another round of huge cuts, just like the last Liberal Premier, Dwight Ball, did. 

Furey could have waited until later this year. By going to the polls now, Furey has raised suspicions that he’s not being totally transparent.

Critics like Ches Crosbie, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, say that Furey is trying to snatch victory before the upcoming release of a review into the province’s horrid finances — a review that could lead to cuts and job losses. ...

Alex Marland, a political science professor at Memorial University, says the issue is a political landmine for Furey.

“It’s never good when you are a political party or a governing party and you are hiding things,” Marland says.

“So as long as you’re hiding things, the opposition can say there’s a wicked, evil, hidden agenda here and that plays to people’s fears. So that’s where it’s a serious problem for the liberals. They need to get a handle on that issue.”

Furey suggests the province needs tough medicine. But he insists fears of the economic review are overblown.

https://globalnews.ca/news/7591891/newfoundland-election-timing/

jerrym

At the same time that Liberal Premier Furey says the province needs tough medicine, social advocates warn the province cannot recover economically if the widespread poverty in the province is not dealt with. 

Advocates in Newfoundland and Labrador say there’s a growing poverty crisis behind the province’s financial strife, and any economic fix will have to reckon with it.

Doug Pawson, the executive director of End Homelessness St. John’s, says the province should be reviewing its social support systems with the same openness to innovation that Premier Andrew Furey says will guide the provincial economic recovery team he convened in September. ...

Pawson said provincial social support systems were designed decades ago to suit a labour market that has long since changed, and he worries that without representation from the anti-poverty sector on the recovery task force, no one will advocate for a new approach.

With a population of just over 520,000, Newfoundland and Labrador faces a $1.84-billion deficit and a $16.4-billion net debt, and Furey assembled the task force to review the province’s finances and map out its economic future. ...

Pawson says better social services, like an income support system with less red tape and surveillance of its users, coupled with a higher minimum wage, will ultimately save the province money in health-care and corrections costs.

Lisa Browne, chief executive officer of Stella’s Circle, a St. John’s non-profit providing work and homes to vulnerable people, agrees with Pawson that ignoring the creeping poverty will only cost more money down the road.

https://globalnews.ca/news/7573171/n-l-economic-crisis-poverty/

 

jerrym

With the PCs saying the Liberals are planning to cut programs and spending and the Liberals going low-ball in their spending announcements, the reverse of usual scenarios in Canada but this is Newfoundland, this could hurt the Liberals large lead in the polls. If the PCs attack works to some extent, and it might because former Liberal Premier Dwight Ball had already done much the same, it could cut into the Liberal lead, not only helping out the PCs, but helping the NDP retain its three seats. 

Typically in Canadian elections, Conservatives promise to balance budgets while Liberals accuse them of hiding secret agendas to cut public services — but not in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Progressive Conservatives are campaigning against balancing the budget while accusing the Liberals of trying to pass through a “secret” plan full of cuts, leading Tim Powers of Abacus Data feeling as though he is living through “opposite day.”

Powers notes that Newfoundland and Labrador has always marched to the beat of its own drum, and says this winter pandemic election will likely be no different.

He says he wonders if Tory Leader Ches Crosbie’s gambit to accuse the Liberals of hiding plans to make deep budget cuts will pay off.

Powers says he also questions whether the Liberals will be successful in their strategy to make low-cost promises while avoiding mention of the province’s $1.84-billion deficit and $16.4-billion net debt.

https://www.todocanada.ca/newfoundland-and-labradors-opposite-day-electi...

jerrym

In the first poll carried out during the election campaign the Liberals have a 36% lead over the PCs among decided voters with 20% still undecided. Once again, the voters view of a government's performance with regard to Covid trumps (pun intended) everything. 

Libs 62%

PCs 26%

NDP 9%

http://ntv.ca/liberals-lead-in-first-opinion-poll-of-campaign-from-mains...

jerrym

With things going pretty much the Liberals way in the polls, there is a chance this week for the opposition this week with the Liberal premier, Andrew Furey, not attending a debate put on by the labour federation but sending deputy premier Siobhan Coady, raising questions about why Furey is not attending. The resignation of Mary Shortall, the head of the labour federation, from the premier’s economic recovery team earlier this month while complaining of a lack of transpaency, and the addition of a bussinesswoman also raises questions about whether the Liberals will tilt further right if they win the election, as seems likely. 

Though the campaign for the Feb. 13 election is half over, the leaders of the three major parties have yet to release platforms or square off against one another to debate the issues.

The province’s teachers’ association and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, among others, have leaders debates scheduled in the upcoming week. The labour federation has confirmed participation from Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and NDP Leader Alison Coffin, but Liberal deputy premier Siobhan Coady will be stepping in for Premier Andrew Furey. ...

A spokeswoman for Furey’s campaign says his travel schedule conflicted with the timing of the debate. ...

Mary Shortall, the head of the labour federation, set off a series of political fireworks when she resigned from the premier’s economic recovery team earlier this month. Furey assembled the team to review the province’s expenses and operations, with an eye to restructuring. To lead the team, Furey tapped Moya Greene, a St. John’s businesswoman who led the privatization of Britain’s postal service.

Shortall has said she resigned because she felt the team lacked transparency and that it was ruled with a top-down approach. She said she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement about its deliberations.

Both the Tories and the NDP have since been calling on Furey to release the team’s draft report before voters head to the polls. Though Furey has promised to make the draft public when it’s submitted, the team’s deadline to submit the draft is Feb. 28, two weeks after the vote.

The province is facing staggering financial challenges, with a $1.84-billion deficit and a $16.4-billion net debt – the highest per capita debt in the country. With no platforms released yet, the parties’ plans to correct course are sure to come up in the upcoming debates.

https://globalnews.ca/news/7610517/debate-packed-third-week-nl-election/

 

nicky

9% for the NDP sounds pretty ominous for the NDP.

Is there anyone who can give an assessment of whether the NDP can retain its present seats? Or add any? What about Shelagh O'Leary in Mt Scio? She is deputy mayor of St John's and on parer at least seems to be a top recruit. 

jerrym

Two of Newfoundland's major unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, have gone after the Liberals for dodging questions about major budget cuts and layoffs, as well as for failing to release an economic recovery report.

And with the economic recovery team being led by the woman who led the privatization of Britain Royal Mail, there are even more concerns. 

Premier Furey's refusal to attend the debate put on by the unions has further raised tensions. 

On Tuesday, the Canadian Union of Public Employees accused Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey of dodging questions from workers by not attending the debate himself. The union also joined the call for Furey to release a controversial economic recovery report before voters head to the polls on Feb. 13. “Voters should know what is in the premier’s economic recovery plan before they decide how to cast their vote in the upcoming provincial election,” union president Sherry Hillier said in a news release. ...

On Monday, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees released an ad featuring narration from actor Gordon Pinsent and calling for public solidarity with front-line workers in the face of speculation about widespread privatization and public-sector cuts. “We called them heroes,” Pinsent’s warm, gravelly voice intones as a woman bangs a pot with a spoon, just as people across the country did in support of workers when the COVID-19 pandemic surged last spring.

The unions have been up in arms since Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour president Mary Shortall quit Furey’s economic recovery team last month, citing a lack of transparency and a “top-down” approach.

On Monday, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees released an ad featuring narration from actor Gordon Pinsent and calling for public solidarity with front-line workers in the face of speculation about widespread privatization and public-sector cuts.

“We called them heroes,” Pinsent’s warm, gravelly voice intones as a woman bangs a pot with a spoon, just as people across the country did in support of workers when the COVID-19 pandemic surged last spring.

The unions have been up in arms since Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour president Mary Shortall quit Furey’s economic recovery team last month, citing a lack of transparency and a “top-down” approach.

The economic recovery team is chaired by Moya Greene, a St. John’s-born businesswoman known for privatizing Britain’s Royal Mail postal service. Shortall said she couldn’t provide details of the team’s discussions because members had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. ...

Speculation about upcoming austerity measures and public-sector layoffs has been swirling since, but Furey has said repeatedly that neither is on the table. Furey will not attend Tuesday night’s debate at the federation of labour, with deputy premier Siobhan Coady attending in his place. A Furey spokesperson said last week his travel schedule conflicted with the event.

https://globalnews.ca/news/7614155/union-ad-nl-election-debate-2021/

jerrym

Today (Wednesday) will be TV debate night.  It can also be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD4CrcyXLZc

NDP Leader Alison Coffin, PC Leader Ches Crosbie and Liberal Leader Andrew Furey are taking part in a series of debates over the course of the week, highlighted by a provincially-televised debate Wednesday evening.

It will be carried on CBC Television, CBC Radio and NTV beginning at 7 p.m. NT, 6:30 p.m. in most of Labrador. The CBC's Peter Cowan and Jane Adey will be part of the questioning panel.

Crosbie and Coffin are debate veterans, having taken part in the 2019 campaign. 

But Wednesday's debate will likely serve as a key test for Furey, the political rookie, and will allow many voters to take their measure of him. Last year, Furey debated fellow Liberal leadership candidate John Abbott on CBC Television. In this week's debate, the stakes are higher, as more people are available to be persuaded. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/election-notebook-m...

 

jerrym

Below is a summary of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour debate last night. The url below also contains a video of the entire debate. 

https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-and-labrador-...

PC Leader Ches Crosbie wasted no time in raising the “elephant in the room” referring to the fact that Liberal Leader Andrew Furey did not attend the forum. Instead of Furey, Liberal candidate for St. John’s West, Siobhan Coady, represented the Liberal party. ...

NDP Leader Alison Coffin followed suit on attacking the Liberals on those issues, as well. “We know that workers are the backbone of our province and yet the leader of the Liberal Party, a man who says he wants to be premier for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, is not here to talk about the concerns of workers,” Coffin said. “At a time when so many of us are worried about the uncertainty that lies ahead, the Liberals have called an election before you, the voters, get to see the recommendations of the Greene Report.” ...

Questions centred around a wide range of topics including the parties positions on: raising the minimum wage, privatization, the Trans-Labrador Highway, climate change and transitioning from oil to a green economy, how to support health-care workers and other front-line workers, homecare workers and health and dental benefits, workers’ compensation, workers disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, addressing high unemployment in the province, and protecting the fishery.

jerrym

There is talk about the possibility of cancelling the election because of Covid. Yesterday they had 11 cases; today they had 30. Although there have been many days when the number of new cases has been zero, considering what is happening elsewhere in Canada and the world in terms of cases this might as well be zero. I can't see the election be cancelled even if rapid growth continues. I also doubt if the increase will have much effect who people vote because the election is so close. If this had occurred at the beginning of the election or a little earlier and the rapid growth continued, then I could see an effect on who people voted for, but not at this point beyond at most a handful of people. But who knows, the NDP won West Labrador by two votes last time. The only possibilty for cancellation is to avoid having those in isolation prevented from voting if they have not already voted in advance. But there is no guarantee the isolation numbers will only get worse. 

Bruce Chaulk, chief electoral officer of Newfoundland and Labrador, said Monday afternoon that the vote is still set for Saturday, with special measures in place to ensure people can vote safely.

"We're following all of the orders of Dr. [Janice] Fitzgerald and her staff have provided to us on how to safely conduct a vote, so we're pretty confident on that part," said Chaulk, speaking with CBC after a briefing by the chief medical officer of health, as well as Premier Andrew Furey and Health Minister John Haggie.

During the briefing, Furey said any authority to postpone the election would fall to Chaulk.

And while that's true, Chaulk said as of now, the election is still going to happen on Feb. 13.

"There's a section in the Elections Act that allows the chief electoral officer to make changes based on unforeseen circumstances, but it doesn't mean that I would cancel or postpone … all of the areas if it's just spread in a localized area," he said.

"A lot of this will depend on what happens over the next few days as to what we do."

If Fitzgerald changes the COVID-19 alert level, for instance, then that could change decision-making about the election, Chaulk said. ...

There are hundreds of people currently in isolation of quarantine. Hours have been extended at two St. John's testing sites, with a third opened up on Mundy Pond Road in St. John's to accommodate testing.

For those in isolation who have not already voted, Chaulk said there are not really any voting options left.

"If they're in isolation, they can't come out. At this point I don't have an option for them in the legislation," said Chaulk.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/bruce-chaulk-electi...

jerrym

Well I was wrong about thinking that the Newfoundland election would not be delayed so close to election day on Saturday. With the number of cases spiking from 9 to 30 to 100, especially in metro St. Johns, because many election day workers have resigned out of fear of catching Covid. As a result, voting in 18 of the 40 electoral districts will not go ahead. These districts are in the Avalon peninsula. This could be good news for the NDP since 2 of the three ridings they hold are in St. John's and the main driver of the rise in the Liberal government vote has been the low Covid infection rate. So this could possibly push some people to reconsider who they vote for. However, the significant advance vote of course would not be affected by this and likely will favour the Liberals. Special ballot deadlines have been extended because of this so I expect quite a few people will take advantage of this. 

The chief electoral officer of Newfoundland and Labrador has postponed voting on Saturday for 18 of 40 districts as the province deals with a rapidly worsening outbreak in metro St. John's.

The election cannot go ahead in the districts — all on the Avalon Peninsula — as COVID-19 cases have caused "considerable operational impacts," said Bruce Chaulk in a release Thursday afternoon. ...

Chaulk's announcement came just before Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald reported 100 new cases of COVID-19, most involving teenagers in the St. John's area. The province's number of active cases went from 16 on Sunday to 210 on Thursday. 

Following Fitzgerald's update late Thursday afternoon, Chaulk said in-person voting would be rescheduled in two weeks if public health conditions improve.

"However, based on the continually increasing COVID cases being reported in the region, there is no guarantee that we will be able to administer in-person voting safely at that time," Chaulk said.

"It will entirely depend on the province's COVID-19 situation."

The 18 districts encompass about half the province's population and include:

  • Cape St. Francis
  • Carbonear – Trinity – Bay de Verde
  • Conception Bay East – Bell Island
  • Conception Bay South
  • Ferryland
  • Harbour Grace – Port de Grave
  • Harbour Main
  • Mount Pearl North
  • Mount Pearl – Southlands
  • Mount Scio
  • Placentia – St. Mary's
  • St. John's Centre
  • St. John's East – Quidi Vidi
  • St. John's West
  • Topsail - Paradise
  • Virginia Waters – Pleasantville
  • Waterford Valley
  • Windsor Lake

All other districts will continue with voting on Saturday as planned, but those results will not be released until all voting has concluded. 

Special ballot deadlines are being extended to allow more people to vote by mail, regardless of their district. People can now apply to vote by special ballot until Saturday at 8 p.m. NT, the same time in-person voting wraps up at unaffected polls. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/election-nl-staffin...

jerrym

The NDP got another bit of good news today with the latest poll. Mainstreet Research February 10 poll shows the NDP up 8% to 17%, the Liberals down 8% to 54% and the PCs even at 26% with the Mainstreet poll of January 29th. Since much of the polling was done before the rapid spike in Covid cases, I suspect that the main driver in this change was NDP leader Alison Coffin's performance in the debate. It makes sense  to some extent that the NDP could almost double its vote share rapidly, when one remembers the NDP were running at 26%, 24%, and 24% in the three polls immediately before Covid hit the country hard in March, as there was a body of voters who had some disposition to vote NDP a year ago. The poll results since the 2019 election can be seen at: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Newfoundland_and_Labrador_general_ele...

Ken Burch

Well, it would be amusing if the Liberals ended up with only a handful of gains or no gains at all when they seemed to assume they could count on a "Covid landslide" if they called an election less than two years into this mandate,

jerrym

Ken Burch wrote:

Well, it would be amusing if the Liberals ended up with only a handful of gains or no gains at all when they seemed to assume they could count on a "Covid landslide" if they called an election less than two years into this mandate,

Under Newfoundland law, the government had to call an election within a year of the selection of a new leader. So the Liberals had to have an election by August, since Furey replaced Ball in August last year. However, picking January to start the campaign in the middle of a harsh Newfoundland winter (I just saw the snow piled high everywhere in St John's on last night's news) was meant to take advantage of the low Covid numbers in January (about 400 infections total and only 4 deaths), avoid having to present a budget in a financial crisis that almost certainly be one of another Premier Ball type cuts, and hope to catch the opposition not fully ready. Then Covid said I am in control, not you.

jerrym

In watching the CBC news last night, one medical worker commented on the rapid growth of Covid in the Avalon peninsula where St. John's is located, by saying that she thinks if there was the kind of testing that has occurred in the St. John's area in the last week occurring in the rest of the province outside the Avalon peninsula, she believes it would show Covid infections are in fact widespread throughout the province. This raises the question whether the low numbers that suddenly exploded, were the result of complacency from earlier good numbers or the Liberals not providing for much testing until a crisis occurred, as it might make them look bad in the runup to or during an election. 

Ken Burch

jerrym wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

Well, it would be amusing if the Liberals ended up with only a handful of gains or no gains at all when they seemed to assume they could count on a "Covid landslide" if they called an election less than two years into this mandate,

Under Newfoundland law, the government had to call an election within a year of the selection of a new leader. So the Liberals had to have an election by August, since Furey replaced Ball in August last year. However, picking January to start the campaign in the middle of a harsh Newfoundland winter (I just saw the snow piled high everywhere in St John's on last night's news) was meant to take advantage of the low Covid numbers in January (about 400 infections total and only 4 deaths), avoid having to present a budget in a financial crisis that almost certainly be one of another Premier Ball type cuts, and hope to catch the opposition not fully ready. Then Covid said I am in control, not you.

If I were on the Newfoundland Liberal strategy team- whatever it might be called- I would be terrified right now.  There is a good chance their support could go into catastrophic decline between now and whenever the rest of the ballots are counted.

robbie_dee

Ken Burch wrote:

Well, it would be amusing if the Liberals ended up with only a handful of gains or no gains at all when they seemed to assume they could count on a "Covid landslide" if they called an election less than two years into this mandate,

It's going to be interesting to see whether the shift to all mail-in voting and a presumably substantial decline in turnout will affect the parties differently. I don't know as much about the NDP's voter base specifically in NL although in general my understanding is that NDP supporters are harder to turn out in "normal" times. In any case I suspect the polls are going to be even less reliable than usual.

Newfoundlander_...

jerrym wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

Well, it would be amusing if the Liberals ended up with only a handful of gains or no gains at all when they seemed to assume they could count on a "Covid landslide" if they called an election less than two years into this mandate,

Under Newfoundland law, the government had to call an election within a year of the selection of a new leader. So the Liberals had to have an election by August, since Furey replaced Ball in August last year. However, picking January to start the campaign in the middle of a harsh Newfoundland winter (I just saw the snow piled high everywhere in St John's on last night's news) was meant to take advantage of the low Covid numbers in January (about 400 infections total and only 4 deaths), avoid having to present a budget in a financial crisis that almost certainly be one of another Premier Ball type cuts, and hope to catch the opposition not fully ready. Then Covid said I am in control, not you.

That's not entirely accurate. The law as it exists now says an election has to be called within one year of a new premier taking over, that section of the law could easily be removed. The PCs, NDP and independents passed a private members resolution last year calling for the election to be delayed until October 2021 to allow for more vaccinations. The despite the motion passing, the Liberals didn't support it or honour it. 
 

Furey, rightly so, wanted a majority mandate ASAP to start implementing his agenda. He doesn't want to say that, for whatever reason, so he repeats the same lie over and over again that he had no choice.  

Ken Burch

Newfoundlander_Labradorian wrote:

jerrym wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

Well, it would be amusing if the Liberals ended up with only a handful of gains or no gains at all when they seemed to assume they could count on a "Covid landslide" if they called an election less than two years into this mandate,

Under Newfoundland law, the government had to call an election within a year of the selection of a new leader. So the Liberals had to have an election by August, since Furey replaced Ball in August last year. However, picking January to start the campaign in the middle of a harsh Newfoundland winter (I just saw the snow piled high everywhere in St John's on last night's news) was meant to take advantage of the low Covid numbers in January (about 400 infections total and only 4 deaths), avoid having to present a budget in a financial crisis that almost certainly be one of another Premier Ball type cuts, and hope to catch the opposition not fully ready. Then Covid said I am in control, not you.

That's not entirely accurate. The law as it exists now says an election has to be called within one year of a new premier taking over, that section of the law could easily be removed. The PCs, NDP and independents passed a private members resolution last year calling for the election to be delayed until October 2021 to allow for more vaccinations. The despite the motion passing, the Liberals didn't support it or honour it. 
 

Furey, rightly so, wanted a majority mandate ASAP to start implementing his agenda. He doesn't want to say that, for whatever reason, so he repeats the same lie over and over again that he had no choice.  

Thanks for the update, Newfoundlander_Labradorian...and good to hear from you, since you seem to have been gone for a spell.

Newfoundlander_...

jerrym wrote:

The NDP got another bit of good news today with the latest poll. Mainstreet Research February 10 poll shows the NDP up 8% to 17%, the Liberals down 8% to 54% and the PCs even at 26% with the Mainstreet poll of January 29th. Since much of the polling was done before the rapid spike in Covid cases, I suspect that the main driver in this change was NDP leader Alison Coffin's performance in the debate. It makes sense  to some extent that the NDP could almost double its vote share rapidly, when one remembers the NDP were running at 26%, 24%, and 24% in the three polls immediately before Covid hit the country hard in March, as there was a body of voters who had some disposition to vote NDP a year ago. The poll results since the 2019 election can be seen at: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Newfoundland_and_Labrador_general_ele...

 

The NDP could have very well missed an opportunity once again. While they're numbers in this poll jumped, although they seemed a bit low in the last poll, it likely won't make much of a difference. The party might have 10 candidates who are actually running campaigns, and most still don't have a chance in their districts. 
 

The three incumbents should be safe, thanks to the stronger polling numbers and incumbency. St. John's Centre, which has become arguablely the most NDP seat in the province,  was supposedly tight between Jim Dinn and prominent Liberal candidate Gemma Hickey. However, the events of the last two weeks will likely benefit Dinn. 

The seat to keep an eye on for the NDP will be Mount Scio, where St. John's Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary is running. The seat is currently represented by cabinet minister Sarah Stoodley, who was only elected narrowly over the PCs in 2019. However, it was an unexpected win as the PCs seemed to been favoured there. The NDP ran a high profile candidate in the district in 2015 and place a strong third. However, their support cratered last time. O'Leary will definitely boost the party's chances here. Her downfall will be that a significant chunk of the district is in the suburban town of Paradise, and they're not a demographic that would normally vote NDP. The PCs are also running well known musician Damian Follett. His candidacy seemed to be overshadowed a bit by what some thought would be a battle between O'Leary and Stoodley. Considering the PCs were a close second last time, with a less known candidate, then it's possible Follett could surprise people. Especially if all three parties are competitive. Follett also gained attention in the last 2 weeks after he announced that his son and subsequently himself had tested positive for COVID-19. 
 

So Mount Scio will be the big district to keep an eye on, and with Mail-in ballots being the only option now to vote the race could very much come down to organization. 

jerrym

The failure of the Liberal government to make a greater effort to allow everyone to vote is reprehensible but politically understandable because they are likely to benefit from having fewer special ballot voters. However, the non-chalant attitude of Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief electoral officer, Bruce Chaulk, to the problem is shocking. 

Simone Dubeau has cast a ballot in every election since she was first eligible to vote. So when she tried several times Friday to register online for a mail-in ballot with Elections Newfoundland and Labrador and found the web page malfunctioning, she says she felt confused and then mad.

“When they didn’t try to remedy the issue and extend the deadline by a few more days, or even apologize for the disruption, I was very angry,” the 30-year-old St. John’s woman said Monday in a Facebook message to The Canadian Press. “It hardly seems like anyone responsible for this election actually cares about making it reasonably fair.” ...

Candidates and organizations raised early concerns that people in fly-in communities along Labrador’s north coast, as well as those without fixed addresses, home phones or internet access, would be left out of the vote. Now there are voters like Dubeau who say they faced system crashes when they tried to request a ballot Friday.

Duff Conacher, co-founder of the Ottawa-based non-profit organization Democracy Watch, said the province’s turbulent vote is a “warning signal” to all other governments considering an election during a pandemic.

“It just shows how fragile our right to vote is,” he said in an interview Monday. “(It’s) a cautionary tale to any premier across the country or the prime minister thinking of calling an election any time soon.”

Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief electoral officer, Bruce Chaulk, however, isn’t concerned about voters who waited until Friday to request a ballot. “We have no way of knowing who was not able to get through, but we gave them ample opportunity to get it done,” he said in an interview Monday, citing the deadline extensions his office announced over the past week.

As for voter turnout, Chaulk said that’s a concern for political scientists, not his office. “Voter turnout is not something that is within our control,” he said. Those like Dubeau who couldn’t get ballots Friday are like voters who get stuck in traffic and can’t make it to a polling station before it closes, he said.

It’s still too early to get a read on this election’s turnout, he said, but more than 60,000 people voted in advance polls and through special ballots before the switch to mail was announced. His office had “points of contact” with another 110,000 people since the switch was announced, Chaulk added, but those include everything from people requesting ballots for their households to workers wondering about getting paid for time put in at advance polls. ...

According to Elections NL data, 214,798 people voted in the 2019 provincial election, representing a turnout of 61 per cent.

Conacher said the chaotic election will likely put a judge in “almost an impossible position.” If voters are left out by the sharp turn to mail-in ballots, Conacher said, those in close ridings could make the case that their votes – had they been cast – would have changed the result. A judge would then have to decide if that’s true, which would be a tough call, he said.

“The biggest mistake was calling the election,” Conacher said, taking aim at Liberal Leader Andrew Furey, who called the election on Jan. 15. The second biggest mistake, he said, was made by Chaulk, who before setting ballot deadlines failed to consult groups that would have trouble voting by mail.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-nl-election-a-warning-to-...

jerrym

The combination of a winter and Covid election will make this the lowest turnout percentage wise in Newfoundland history. Even if everyone who requested a mail-in ballot turns it in, which never happens, the turnout will only be 51%, the lowest ever in the province. One can thank Liberal Premier Furey for this mess. The NDP is looking at the possibility of pursuing a legal challenge to an election in which everyone who was eligible to vote was not able to.

Data from Elections NL requested by CBC News this week is raising red flags for opposition party leaders, who say a record-low turnout would threaten election results.

Elections NL estimates there have been 120,000 requests for mail-in ballots, in addition to the 68,259 special or advance ballots already received. 

If all those ballots are returned, it would equal a 51 per cent voter turnout rate — a historic low for Newfoundland and Labrador, which during its last election in May 2019 saw 60.7 per cent of eligible voters mark a ballot. The current lowest voter turnout, 55 per cent, came in 2015.

"The right to have unimpeded access [to vote] … is absolutely central to the legitimacy of government," said PC Leader Ches Crosbie, in reaction to those numbers, in an interview Tuesday. The Tories have repeatedly pointed a finger at Liberal Leader Andrew Furey for triggering an election prior to widespread vaccine availability. Crosbie contends Furey ought to have pushed back his 12-month deadline to drop the writ, or at the very least, waited until summer. "That negligence, that's why we are where we are right now," Crosbie said.

Furey wouldn't do an interview, instead sending a statement through his campaign office. "Our Liberal team is hearing from many voters who are looking forward to voting, and we hope this will contribute to a good turnout," the emailed statement said. ...

"Whoever emerges from this," Crosbie replied, "is going to have a dubious mandate to get things done."

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Alison Coffin stressed the tasks directly ahead of the electorate. At the moment, she said, anyone who did get a ballot should focus on submitting it in time. "Then we can figure out the ramifications of everything that's happened," she said. Given the obstacles voters face, however, she's not shocked to hear about Elections NL's data. Much of what happened, she said, could have been examined and managed by the Liberals to address types of access.

"I think it would have been the responsible thing for the Furey government to look at modernizing the Elections Act," Coffin said.

While Coffin says her party has not yet decided on whether they'll pursue a legal challenge, the NDP are asking for online feedback to reform the Elections Act once a government has been formed.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/low-voter-turnout-c...

Ken Burch

The lower the turnout, the greater the liklihood of a Liberal majority-by-default, which Furey will then claim as a "mandate" for his austerity agenda.

 

nicky

I see that the NDP vote in the latest Mainstreet poll has declined from 17 to 9%.

I wonder if any of the locals can tell us:

1. Does this seem accurate?
2. if so, what reasons are behind such a big decline over the campaign?

jerrym

nicky wrote:

I see that the NDP vote in the latest Mainstreet poll has declined from 17 to 9%.

I wonder if any of the locals can tell us:

1. Does this seem accurate?
2. if so, what reasons are behind such a big decline over the campaign?

The three most recent polls are all Mainstreet. In them the Liberals went 62-54-53. The PCs went 26-26-32. The NDP went 9-17-9. The only constant in the last two polls is the Liberals losing 8-9%. The PCs stay flat and then jump 6% while the NDP goes up 8% then falls back 8%, all within a month, making wonder about the reliability of these Mainstreet polls. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Newfoundland_and_Labrador_general_ele...

Newfoundlander_...

nicky wrote:

I see that the NDP vote in the latest Mainstreet poll has declined from 17 to 9%.

I wonder if any of the locals can tell us:

1. Does this seem accurate?
2. if so, what reasons are behind such a big decline over the campaign?

I wouldn't read too much into the Mainstreet poll. I felt the 17% for the NDP was too high but still think they can get into double digit support.
 

The last election it was difficult to gauge NDP support in polls because they were running so few candidates and didn't have any representation in entire regions of the province. The party finished with 6.3% of the vote in 2019, yet some polls mid campaign had them polling in the teens. That was an impossible number to reach with something like 15 candidates. Even though they're not running a full slate this election they at least have candidates in all regions, which should help to make polling a bit more accurate. 
 

In the end though, whether they are polling at 9% or 17% there are still only 4 districts where they likely have a chance.