Big Blue Wave stops at The Rock (well .. Lib minority, maybe dependent on NDP) — good or bad news for Justin Trudeau?

May 18th, 2019 | By | Category: In Brief
Kelly Jefferson, originally from faraway Regina, now in Toronto : a master of the tenor saxophone.

Some of us were at The Bluebird near the Dundas West subway station in Toronto as the results of the provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador (aka The Rock) rolled in.

We were listening to the “Stubble Jumpers … a brand new cooperative Jazz Organ trio consisting of Kelly Jefferson (saxes), Jeff McLeod (organ), and Ted Warren (drums).” All three began their lives in Regina, Saskatchewan — where “Stubble Jumper” is a term of proud abuse. Then they moved to the city with the heart of a loan shark, where they have become accomplished musicians and energetic entertainers for discriminating democratic tastes.

Dropping quickly into the office on our ways home, we caught up with the results of the election still further east, where Giovanni Cabotto may or may not have landed in 1497.

There are 40 seats in the Newfoundland House of Assembly — making 21 seats a bare majority. On May 16, 2019 (based on results reported by Maclean’s) Dwight Ball’s incumbent Liberals won 20 seats with 45.1% of the popular vote across the province. Ches Crosbie’s Progressive Conservatives won 15 seats with 43.7% of the vote. Alison Coffin’s New Democrats won 3 seats with 6.5% of the vote. And 2 seats were won by Independents among the Other candidates, who collectively took 4.8% of the popular vote province-wide.

Surviving Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball says his party is listening to voters’ plea for politicians to “work together.”

Possibly hinting at how federal Conservatives may react to some broadly similar result in the Canadian federal election this coming October 21, 2019, Conservative leader Ches Crosbie declared : “I am not conceding victory to the Liberals …They will have to struggle for the next months and years to hang on to power.”

In particular, Premier Ball’s Liberals may have to depend on co-operation with the three elected New Democrats — party leader Alison Coffin in St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi, Jim Dinn in St. John’s Centre, and Jordan Brown in Labrador West.

Conservative leader Crosbie has apparently “said he will be calling on three elected members of the NDP and two Independents to form a coalition to counter the Liberals.” If those he is calling on accept his invitation, there will indeed have to be a fresh election very soon. (20 Liberals vs 20 very strange bedfellow united Conservatives, New Democrats, and Independents is a contest that no one can win, including a provincial budget!)

It would, however, seem a better bet for Ms Coffin’s newly energized New Democrats to trade co-operation with Dwight Ball’s Liberal minority government for concessions on NDP policy objectives that could not otherwise be met. (And then it is also true that the government only needs one of the two Independent votes for at least a bare majority in the House of Assembly — one of which belongs to a former Liberal.) Only time will tell definitively, of course.

Very Rockish NDP leader Alison Coffin, whose party has made gains and could hold a balance of power in the House of Assembly over the next while.

Meanwhile, whatever some might say about how close the 2019 Newfoundland election has been, the Big Blue Wave that brought conservative governments to office in five provinces over the past year has been stopped by democracy on The Rock.

Our very rough and ready guess of the mere moment is that these Newfoundland election results may also prove to be a good enough predictor of the broad shape of things likely to emerge from the Canadian federal election this coming October 21.

We’d guess as well that, at a time when such things are not easy to find in Ottawa, the 2019 election in Newfoundland and Labrador has to qualify as good news for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada. Along with such headlines as “Canada, US reach deal to lift steel and aluminum tariffs within 2 days” — if not the results of today’s Australian election!

Who knows? A federal Liberal minority government dependent on NDP (and/or Green Party) votes for parliamentary majorities may even be the best PM Trudeau can hope for in 2019. And this would nicely echo his father’s second election as party leader as well, in 1972!

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