Canada Votes: Preview – The Maritimes

by on 2 September, 2015

FrontWith the Canadian election now less than two months away, it is time to start looking at the possibilities on a riding by riding level and how they will stack up on election night.



Prince Edward Island (Four seats)

PEI_Wiki PEIdetPrince Edward Island is known for two main different features depending on your interests. If you are a political or historical nerd, you know PEI as the place where the idea of a nation of Canada came to be. If you are not, you most likely know it better as the home of the fictitious redheaded girl named Anne of Green Gables, which smothers the downtown shopping district. It is also the ‘home’ of Senator Mike Duffy, who is currently on trial for spending rorts which make Tony Burke look like Mahatma Gandhi. Duffy was appointed by Stephen Harper, which might explain a little antipathy towards the Tories.

PEI is a traditionally strong Liberal province at all three levels; although the 2007 provincial election saw the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives swap numbers, as the Liberals went from four of 27 seats in opposition to 23 in government. PEI is also known as just one of two Commonwealth Parliaments where the government sits to the Speaker’s left. This oddity can be put down to the location of the fireplace when the chamber was first built rather than any great rebellious streak.

Polling suggests the Liberal stranglehold in PEI will remain, with Egmont in the west of PEI the best chance for the Conservatives to steal one a seat from the Liberals, Egmont the only riding in PEI where the Liberals are currently polling at less than 50%, although n49.5% in a first past the post election is as good as locked up. However, with the recent re-election of the Liberals provincially, there seems to be no inclination in a province built on agriculture, fisheries and tourism to ditch any of the province’s representatives in Ottawa.


Lib: 5 (+4)     Con: 1     NDP: 1     BQ: 0     Grn: 0     Oth: 0



Newfoundland and Labrador (Seven seats)

NFLD_Wiki NLdetThe youngest of Canada’s provinces joined in 1949, after a referendum saw 52.3% of ‘Newfies’ vote in favour of joining Canada, the remainder voting in favour of standing as an independent dominion. The move towards joining Canada was prompted by a mountain of debt incurred during the Second World War crippling the island’s economy and government, which ceased to exist for a short period such was the economic turmoil engulfing the dominion. NL is the second Commonwealth Parliament to have the government sit to the Speaker’s left, and for the same reason as its counterpart on PEI.

NL’s economy is based on working class sectors, with a focus on mining, energy, fisheries and agriculture. However, NL is also one of the coldest provinces in Canada, meaning the province is often held hostage by seasonal employment statistics, which sees the economy half shut down during the harshest winter months, which might explain the outlook for the Conservatives at this election. Depsite this, NL ranks third in the provinces for per capita GDP.

Stephen Harper has made a point of trying to reform what is known in Canada as the unemployment insurance (UI) system, whereby workers pay into a fund which can be drawn upon when workers find themselves unemployed. This sounds much nicer than the dole or newstart, except it is pretty much the same, and workers in the fisheries and agricultural sectors draw on the fund much more than workers outside the fund. This means the maritime provinces (NL, PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) tend to be subsidised by western and central provinces, who economies run more on services and mining.

The Liberals appear set to waltz in in five of the seven ridings in the province without so much as a whimper from the other parties. The NDP, meanwhile, is neck and neck in St. John’s South — Mount Pearl with the Liberals, and could run a rabid coyote in St Johns East and still poll above 60%. The only riding of interest to Conservatives will be the mainland riding of Labrador. Won by conservative Peter Penashue in 2011, who resigned amidst accusations of spending irregularities during the campaign, Penashue ran in the by-election but lost to the Liberals. Recent polling, though, has the Liberals on 48%, the Tories 25% and the NDP on 22% and, while Harper’s UI policies remain on the books, the Liberals will win this seat easily.


Lib: 10 (+5)     Con: 1     NDP: 3 (+2)     BQ: 0     Grn: 0     Oth: 0



Nova Scotia (11 seats)

NS_Wiki NSdetOne of four original provinces, Nova Scotia is famous for its maritime traditions, although its two most famous (or infamous) claims to fame have more to do with the negativity of water than the positives. Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax, is the site of one of the key military installations of early Canada, the Halifax Citadel. The Citadel sits atop the main hill in the downtown core, and is a wonderful sight-seeing opportunity for history buffs. For sports fans, Nova Scotia is home to the captain of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, regarded as one of the best, if not the best, player in the sport of ice hockey.

However, the capital is better known for its role in the Titanic disaster, when it became the final resting place for hundreds of passengers who passed away on the night of 15 April 1912 as the passenger liner split in half after striking an iceberg. If that was a disaster, The Halifax Explosion in 1917 was nothing short of catastrophic, as a military ship carrying thousands of tonnes of high explosives collided with another liner in the harbour. The numbers are incredible: 2000 dead, 9000 injured, 5000 degrees Celsius at the core of the explosion, the anchor of one of the ships landing 3.2 kilometres away, and shockwaves felt more than 200 kilometres away.

Nova Scotia ranks as one of the more naturally diverse provinces, with British, French, Acadian (A mix of French and Aboriginal) and Mi’kmaq first nations people prominent in demographics in the province today. The economy relies heavily on fisheries as well as the aeronautical and shipbuilding industries. Defence and aerospace is worth $1.5 billion to the province each year, while manufacturing and IT also feature prominently. Per capita GDP sits at a little over $47,000, which is just more than half of Alberta, Canada’s wealthiest province, indicating the continuing economic struggles on the province.

There are a handful of ridings of interest in Nova Scotia at this election. Central Nova is in the sights of the NDP after the retirement of former conservative defence minister Peter McKay. McKay took over the seat from his father and led the old Progressive Conservative party before its merger with the Canadian Alliance, McKay unsuccessfully running against Stephen Harper for the leadership. McKay is best known for bungling the F-35 purchase and for having a rather public personal life. Current polling has the NDP 1.5% ahead of the conservatives. However, this could go either way as the Tories have selected a Harper acolyte in Fred DeLorey in, a blue tory in red tory country. McKay, though, is publicly backing DeLorey and that might get him across the line.

Cumberland-Colchester is tight but the benefit of incumbency should see the conservatives take it. Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, the home of the aforementioned hockey player Sidney Crosby, is currently held by Robert Chisholm of the NDP, who ran unsuccessfully for the party leadership after the death of Jack Layton. Polling suggests he finds himself locked in a major struggle with the Liberals, who are relying on a strong Atlantic showing to offset another slaughtering out west, while the NDP have their sights set on forming a government by working central and maritime results to their benefit. With an 11% deficit, it is difficult to see Chisholm holding on.


Lib: 16 (+6)     Con: 3 (+2)     NDP: 6 (+3)     BQ: 0     Grn: 0     Oth: 0



New Brunswick (10 seats)

NB_Wiki NBdetNew Brunswick is another of the original provinces of Canada and the only province which recognises, in the provincial constitution, English and French as equal languages. Although classed as a maritime province, New Brunswick is largely shielded from the harsh maritime conditions in winter, which has given way to a different lifestyle and economy. The Appalachian Mountains extend as far north as New Brunswick, with the state of Maine sitting on New Brunswick’s western border.

New Brunswick was carved from Nova Scotia and was keen to become part of a united Canada at Confederation for self-preservation and security reasons, given its proximity to the USA and the alleged preference of Queen Victoria for the Confederate States to prevail for economic and geopolitical reasons. This was offset by a strong independent streak in the maritimes, with a fear of maritime interests being usurped by Upper and Lower Canada.

New Brunswick has one of the most diverse economies in the nation, which is reflected in voting patterns. Among the dominant economic industries are healthcare, education, retail, insurance and finance. Forestry plays a major role in the centre of the province, while export-sensitive areas are very keen to see governments elected which maintain strong US relation, given that the US is the final destination for a whopping 92% of New Brunswick exports. Mining, agriculture and fisheries also play an important role, but are of far less importance in New Brunswick than other maritime provinces.

At a provincial level, the NDP struggles to maintain a presence of any significance in New Brunswick, their two seats in Ottawa currently grossly over-representing their provincial support. Economics matters in New Brunswick, with the white and blue collar sectors conscious of any party seen as socialist or anti-American. The Liberals and Conservatives have generally split the different in New Brunswick recently with the NDP’s Yvon Godin in Acadie-Bathurst to keep the flag flying. However, polls suggest some movement in 2015 in New Brunswick.

In the capital of Fredericton, the incumbent Conservatives are struggling to keep pace with the Liberals, who lead 35% to 28%, with the NDP chasing hard on 25%, although that is one deficit too big to make up. The difficulty faced by the Conservatives is that as the NDP has its leftie loonies exposed, NDP voters should shift to the Liberals rather than stay home, and with Justin Trudeau in the Liberal hot seat, Fredericton will probably go from blue to red.

Miramichi-Grand Lake has seen the Conservative slip an incredible 17% in the vote to bring the Liberals right into the contest. The NDP sit not far behind in this contest and should they choose to run dead early enough, the Liberals would like their chances. However, Tilly O’Neill-Gordon has held the seat since 2002, when the Liberals were ascendant, and it is difficult to imagine her getting brushed when the Liberals couldn’t find a way in with Jean Chretien.

Saint John-Rothesay is the other riding up in the air, and this riding has a propensity to run its own race independent of what anyone else is thinking. Won back by the Liberals as they moved from majority to minority in 2004, then returning to the Conservatives only in 2008, the Tories have dropped just shy of 17% of the vote here too, with the NDP surging on 37%. Interestingly, the Liberals were a non-factor in this race but have picked up steam, so the current lead of the NDP is very much under a question mark. The NDP only claimed runner up status for the first time in 2011 and, with the NDP running hard on an anti-Harper foreign and economic platform during the early stages of a US Presidential election, the Tories might just recover enough to hold on in the southern city.


Lib: 20 (+4)     Con: 8 (+5)     NDP: 7 (+1)     BQ: 0     Grn: 0     Oth: 0

Leave a Reply