12 July 2011

The placeholder election

No matter what the outcome, all three political parties in the province will have new leaders before the 2015 contest.

In December, the Tories decided to postpone their leadership fight until after the October general election.  Kathy Dunderdale took over the job in the first place on the understanding it would be a temporary thing.  The shift in December had more to do with internal party politics than Dunderdale’s sudden discovery she had some goals to accomplish.  [Hint:  she didn’t].

Dunderdale is pushing 60 as it is.  If she’s elected in the fall, she will be the oldest person ever elected Premier since Confederation, beating out Danny Williams by eight years. This is not a two term Premier, no matter how you look at it.

The only real question is whether the Tories will have the leadership quickly or wait until year three-ish.  Anything before October 2014 triggers an election under Danny Williams’ changes to the Elections Act.  How long she stays is really up the ambitious men and women within her caucus who have parked their campaign until after the fall vote.

Over in the Liberal camp, Yvonne Jones’ only hope of hanging onto her current job is if she wins the next election. Even then, her tenure would depend heavily on her having a clean bill of health.  Otherwise, the length of time she stays on as leader is in inverse proportion to the magnitude of her defeat. The only factor that could push her out more quickly would be a recurrence of Jones’ cancer.

There there is the 68-year old New Democratic Party leader, Lorraine Michael. While her party keeps torquing the idea of some massive break-through in the general election, Michael likely won’t be around long afterward to enjoy it, even if it does happen. 

Politics is gruelling.  Look at the toll the stress has taken on Kathy Dunderdale already, despite the fairly obvious makeover she’s undergone in a very short space of time.  And Dunderdale is nine years younger than Michael. 

This is Lorraine’s last trip to the polls. Just as well to start the pool now on who will replace her.

No matter how you slice it,  this election will be about marking time;  it’s a placeholder election with the real contest coming at some point within the next four years

It will be interesting to see how this issue – one that affects all three parties equally – factors into the campaign and to the final vote.

- srbp -