Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Brunswick's Election Aftermath

Last night, New Brunswickers elected a tide of Tory blue, sweeping Shawn Graham's Liberals out of office and installing what will be the new government of David Alward with an overwhelming majority of 42 seats, compared to 13 for the defeated Liberals.

There's no doubt that many factors came into play in the decisions of New Brunswickers, especially the push by the Graham government to sell off NB Power's assets to Hydro Quebec in an attempt to get a better deal for New Brunswickers. The fact that Graham, after saying he was willing to lose his job over the issue, backed down from it, was indicative of a bigger problem with the Graham government: the style they ruled in.

Graham's government came into power mostly on the mantra of "the tired, old Lord Conservatives." The rate of change in the Lord government was fairly cautious and slow, and ultimately it didn't go anywhere fast. Graham's government promised to be "more activist" - and that they were. Whether it was decisions on French immersion, NB Power, Point Lepreau, rebranding, etc., Graham's government tried to go everywhere. The problem with that was Graham's seeming inability to keep momentum behind the decisions up. That ultimately lead to not only disenfranchised opposition voters, but your own supporters dropping away as well. Sound like anyone else we know?

Another big part of Graham's defeat is fairly obvious, just in the electoral results themselves; since 2006, the economic situation in New Brunswick has become appreciably worse, not necessarily because of Graham, but because he was the incumbent Premier, there is more than enough blame to be directed at him, rightly or wrongly. Looking at employment figures, compared from 2006 to 2010, we can see right away a correlation between the regions that saw a drop in unemployment, compared to the election map: the Liberals survived and even gained a seat in Moncton and the Southeast, while everywhere else in the province they were treated as nothing but a doormat, including Saint John and Fredericton, where the Liberals were wiped out entirely.

Indeed, the Liberals managed to win only one seat outside of the French-speaking areas of the province. I don't think there is necessarily a correlation, except for the fact that the ridings are always strong Liberal areas. But it can tell us something about where the next leader may come from. If they represent mostly Acadian ridings, will the next leader be Acadian?

Nevertheless, whoever the next Liberal leader will be, they'll probably have more than enough fodder to attack the Alward government with. Alward might have the right mindset, but his promises are more than a little flaky. Might he end up being the second one-term Premier in the province's history? Too soon to tell.

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