10 June 2016

Turning Point #nlpoli

The Great Filibuster of 2016 came to an abrupt end on Thursday afternoon as the two opposition parties decided to pack it in, having gaining precisely nothing of any substance.

The filibuster confirmed the NDP are as politically impotent as they have always been.  Meanwhile, the Conservatives lack punch, depth, and direction.  The Liberals left themselves vulnerable and rather than do them lasting damage,  the opposition parties flinched at the crucial moment.  The result is that the Liberals now get to regroup and come back stronger, having learned powerful lessons out of the spring.

To give a sense of how ineffective the filibuster was, consider that on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Liberals were able to get two crucial pieces of legislation through the House.  In both the school boards election bill and the new greenhouse gas emissions bill, the Liberals got to calmly and rationally lay out the arguments in favour of their position.  The opposition meekly listened.

Environment minister Perry Trimper came away stronger in the public eye as a result.  Education minister Dale Kirby can be abrasive when riled but on this occasion he spoke eloquently about the bill the NDp had spent the earlier part of the session hammering him over.  Kirby also got to explain why full-day kindergarten was so important as part of the government's agenda.

Now with that in mind take a look at the CRA poll released on Thursday.

Take a look at the latest CRA poll numbers.

These standings are purely the result of the abysmal performance by the government over the past couple of months.

Can they turn this around?


There's no doubt the Liberals can recover.  Even Dwight Ball can recover his position, despite the fact he has dropped from 53% support to a mere 18% in three months.  The question is whether Dwight and the Liberals are prepared to do the things needed to regain public trust and confidence.   The Liberals can expect a couple of bad polls between now and Christmas.  If they make some changes in how they do things, they should see some signs of change. What the Liberals do is going to be the political story for the rest of this year.

That means that the Liberals remain in control of the political agenda,  which is where they need to be to effect a recovery.  For now, though, the Liberals are in firm possession of third place, with the other two parties in a tie for first.  But notice how low their support levels are.  Neither accounts for more than 25% of respondents.  The New Democrats are at 24% of all respondents, with the Conservatives at 22%.  MQO had the Liberals in first with 24% with the other two parties tied at 19%. They've pretty much switched places.

Sure the CRA poll shows a big jump for New Democrats.  But if we have learned any lesson over the last five years it is that voters park their votes with the NDP like they used to use the "undecided" column.  In other words, when they are pissed with the government,  they show their displeasure by telling pollsters they won't vote Liberal.  But unlike 2012,  there is no sense that voters have abandoned the Liberals altogether.  To the contrary, a great deal of popular commentary had a core message for the Liberals:  stop packing around and get back to doing the job you promised.

Even on Monday of this week, things looked far bleaker than that for the Liberals.

When people look back on the history of this administration, they will mark the filibuster as a turning point for the Liberals.