03 May 2011

The Dunderdale Referendum Election #elxn41

Premier Kathy Dunderdale and her team of provincial Conservatives decided to throw their weight behind the federal Conservatives in this election.

Talk about your epic fail.

Kathy made this a referendum on her Muskrat Falls policy, her leadership and her political potency.

Only one of her candidates took a first place finish.  Peter Penashue beat Todd Russell in a squeaker.

In Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, a last minute announcement in Corner Brook gave a flimsy cover for four cabinet ministers to get to the west coast to help Trevor Taylor against Liberal Gerry Byrne.  Waste of time and taxpayer-funded travel.

And in Avalon, where former incumbent Fabian Manning came frustratingly close, he can take the credit for most of that vote.  He worked hard after losing the seat in a close run in 2008 and Manning would have waged a tough campaign without provincial help.  Of course, he did get help, some if quite strong from people like Jerome Kennedy. It just wasn’t enough.

Then consider that the federal Conservatives – most of them former provincial cabinet ministers – all campaigned on the argument that you needed someone on the government side or else you’d starve.  It’s an argument the provincial Conservatives have used relentlessly since 2003.  They’ve waged a relentless and very old fashioned campaign of favouring districts they held and punishing opposition districts for things like road paving.

Voters across Newfoundland and Labrador  - including a raft of provincial Conservative voters - rejected that flatly.

The two changes in the province, one in St. John’s South -  Mount Pearl and the other in Labrador, have other implications that are worth their own posts.

But for now, the first-blush reaction to the federal result in Newfoundland and Labrador is that it doesn’t bode well for the province’s Conservatives.

- srbp -