20 October 2008

The Big Blue Shaft

After this week's Provincial Conservative convention in Corner Brook, there can be no doubt who approved the Blue Shaft for the opposition caucus budget.

"...So prepare yourselves Yvonne and Lorraine, 'cause the honeymoon is over."

Bond Papers readers won't be surprised by this.  As pointed out in September, the Family Feud caused dissension in the ranks and no one had to eavesdrop on Timmies customers to pick up the disgruntled views of Provincial Conservatives.  Some were fried at the idea of turning on their federal cousins, brothers and sisters. Others thought the Feud would only strengthen the provincial opposition.

Premier Danny Williams put those fears to rest by calling off the Feud the day after the election at the same time as three of his senior caucus mates gave the Shaft to the opposition.

It didn't take long for the conciliatory tone and the shift in Williams' targeting to resonate with Conservatives in the province:

"I'm glad we're turning a corner there," O'Brien said. "It would be nice for him to finally just say it: a Conservative is a Conservative is a Conservative, a Tory is a Tory is a Tory, [and] not constantly distinguish between the two.

"The provincial party and the federal party have slightly different names, but it's the same people, the same family."

Uh huh.

The same family. 

Like some of us didn't know that already.

Williams event went so far as to claim that the Williams Family Feud  caused the Liberal victories in the recent federal election;  he attributed the Liberal rise to a deep blue wave of Provincial Conservatives.

Not exactly.

West of Goobies, the only impact the Feud had was to suppress Conservative votes in the province.

East of Goobies, the Feud suppressed Conservative votes in Avalon to the point where Scott Andrews took the seat with a tiny increase in the Liberal vote. In St. John's East, Provincial Conservatives turned out en masse to back New Democrat Jack Harris, Williams' former law partner.

Harris enjoyed public declarations of support from the Provincial Conservative caucus, as did St. John's South-Mount pearl Liberal candidate Siobhan Coady.  So pronounced were the Provincial Conservatives' declarations of support for specific candidates in the two St. John's ridings one could easily imagine a list had been drawn up and handed down.

However, in St. John's South-Mount Pearl, Coady wasn't the beneficiary of any influx of Blue voters. In a result that could almost be seen as local Conservatives thumbing their nose at the Feud's preference, New Democrat Ryan Cleary picked up twice as many new votes as did his Liberal rival.  Coady still won the seat but the race was nip and tuck through most of the evening as returns poured in.  If those votes were Conservatives, twice as many voted for Cleary than Coady and more even stayed home than Coady polled in new votes compared to her previous outing in 2006.