Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Brunswick Provincial Poll

Léger Marketing has released a new poll concerning New Brunswick provincial politics and the sale of NB Power to Hydro-Québec.Apparently, it is an unpopular move.

Shawn Graham's Liberals have dropped 14 points from the 2006 election, a huge loss. David Alward's Progressive Conservatives, though, have merely maintained their vote, dropping two points. It is the NDP under Roger Duguay that has become a factor, up 14 points from the last election.

The sale of NB Power is the culprit, as only 22% favour the sale compared to 60% who oppose it. Interestingly, there is a higher proportion of supporters among the francophone population.

The fact that the NDP has benefited from the Liberal woes indicates that New Brunswickers are more unhappy with the Liberals, and looking for an alternative, than attracted by another party. The number of PC supporters, it would appear, is maxed out.

Léger also asked Quebecers what they thought of the sale, and 55% favour it while only 14% oppose it.

New Brunswick is the province that is most likely to have the next election. It is scheduled for September 27, 2010 and since NB has fixed election dates, that will be the date of the election. I hope to give coverage and projections of it at that time.


  1. So the left continues to split the vote...we have 52% left of centre and 45% right of centre.

    Who gets elected, a right of centre government who apparently does not represent the true wishes of the electorate.

    That is happening all over Canada, something needs to be done regarding this misrepresentation of the voters.

  2. The easiest solution would be proportional representation. Then the parties would work together to find common ground, since they would know that outright majorities would be impossible.

    In our current system, majorities are less likely than minorities, but each party is grappling at straws for the chance.

    In the case of New Brunswick wth PR, the PC and the Liberals could find a centrist common ground from which to govern, or the Liberals and the NDP could find a centre-left common ground from which to govern.

  3. This poll might show people moving en masse to the NDP, but come election time, it will be a much different scenario. The NDP in New Brunswick have regularly polled higher than their own electoral scores simply because they have no organization on the ground there. They don't even have representation, and I don't know much about their leader, but I'm willing to bet his voice is minimal at best.

  4. Anon,

    "we have 52% left of centre and 45% right of centre."


    This always bothers me, you know for certain that every single supporter of the Liberal party is a lefty?

    If it were the simple the NDP and the Liberal party would have merged a long time ago.

    On economic matters its night and day between the two parties, in fact i'd describe the Liberals as centre-left on social matters, centre-right on economic matters. Where as the NDP is left to centre-left on just about everything.

  5. Given the tax-cut heavy budget the NB Liberals brought down, and the issue that this poll seems to be turning on; (Selling a public utility) is this really about left v. right?

    If it is, then the NB premier would be to blame for tacking to the right and getting no traction. But are the NB Conservatives actually backing the sale or the last budget?

  6. Anon if we saw a union of the left inevitably some LPC supporters would find their way to the CPC. How many would depend on how far to the left the new party was. If the new party was to close to the centre I suspect that there would be a new party of the left. Jesse and I are both to right of centre but I find it hard to reconcile my views with his on a lot of things. I couldn't vote for a CPC that fully reflected his views nor could he vote for a CPC that fully reflected mine unless it was the lesser of two evils.

    I find the left of the NDP to be quite strident and wonder if an amalgamation is possible.

    The Greens are another story with a somewhat right wing economic agenda and a very left wing environmental view.

  7. "Interestingly, there is a higher proportion of supporters among the francophone population."

    I'm not francophone so I can't be certain on the reasoning here but the way I see things is that there are some who are against this deal because it is with Quebec. For most who are against the deal it is because it is a bad deal. My guess would be that the francophone population are less likely to be anti-Quebec on this issue because they can better relate to Quebec.

    "So the left continues to split the vote...we have 52% left of centre and 45% right of centre."

    I live in New Brunswick and the NDP are against this power deal and many Liberal supporters are looking for a new party to support (some after voting Liberal for a lifetime) A left of centre coalition can not work due to this deal as the Liberal and NDP parties can not reconcile their opinions over it. If it was just the Liberal party with no NDP the those votes would move to another option to voice their opposition. Be it PC, Green, independant or not voting.

    This deal is major and many in New Brunswick are angry over the government's handling of the sale. You will want to pay attention to the next election, it will be interesting

  8. "So the left continues to split the vote...we have 52% left of centre and 45% right of centre."

    This is a complete fallacy. New Brunswick is one province where the provincial Liberals have been to the right of the provincial PCs for about the last 40 years. Richard hatfield of the PCs was as red Tory as they come. he was succeeded by neo-liberal Liberal Frank McKenna who brought in wave affter wave of privatization and deregulation and essentially did whatever the Irving family told him to do. He was succeeded by Bernard Lord who was another centrist wishy-washy type who looked young and didn't really do anything. Then in came Shawn Graham of the NB Liberals, who many people feel is now the most ideologically rightwing premier in Canada - along with Gordon Campbell (who also calls himself a Liberal, but I digress) and Graham has brought in a rightwing reign of etrror of mass layoffs in the public sector, regressive tax cuts and privatuzation and deregulation.

    If you want to add up the centre and the left in NB, you better put together 19% NDP and 45% PC because that is the centre left vote leaving the Liberals with the 33% rightwing vote.

  9. Heh, Jesse I see you're still flailing away trying to spin anything and everything as good for the Conservatives and the right.

    I already saw you get eviscerated on this on a thread from last week by Eric and 2 other need to do it again.

  10. If all left of center parties joined to become one, would they still get that amt of support.
    The lefts support is split, but the right is strong for one party.
    Why doesn't the left unite if they thing the majority support them.

  11. Proportional representation leads to bigger government. You can see this all over the world.

    Minority governments are constantly angling for political gain, and that means they need to legitimize their positions through action all the time. This leasds to bigger government, regardless of who is in power.

    So for people who support smaller government, it makes sense for those people to oppose proportional representation, irrespective of which party it harms most.

  12. YOu have to get the policies you want by convincing people of the soundness of your arguments. If you want smaller government, then you should be able to convince over 50% of voters to vote for parties that want smaller gov't and then you will get it under PR. If you can't get people to vote for that - then that's your problem!

  13. Anon @ 12:54,

    "I already saw you get eviscerated on this on a thread from last week by Eric and 2 other need to do it again."

    Are you refering to the discussion over whether the right is doing well in this country ?

    I'll simply ask you one question that will prove illuminating:

    Who is the Prime Minister of this country and where would you place him on the political spectrum.

  14. Ira,

    Very interesting thoughts.

    Constant elections, minority governments, fear of recalls - all of this tends to lead to unbalanced budgets, giveaways, and nobody willing to make tough decisions for the benefit of the country.

    Dl's response seems utterly insufficient, in fact he seems to have missed your point entirely that a bias towards big government is built into the system itself.

    DL says,

    "If you want smaller government, then you should be able to convince over 50% of voters to vote for parties that want smaller gov't and then you will get it under PR."

    It takes a good four years to convince people that doing nothing and keeping taxes low is good for them, as opposed to the ten seconds it takes for a big government type to yell

    "i'll give you stuff! But don't worry, its free, the rich will pay for everything!!"

    Believe me, explaining basic economics and how Europe's chronic unemployment situation is directly related to its big government, high tax policies is a bit exhausting.

    Lucikly, Dl's statement

    "If you can't get people to vote for that - then that's your problem!"

    Is irrelevent. Because first past the post is here to stay.

    People with a lot more vision and a lot more wisdom than we all do built it into the system.

    So the problem isn't ours, its the forces of "electoral reform" who will find themselves constrained. For this reason, and countless others, we should be thankful we have a SYSTEM of government and not a direct majority mob rule.

  15. Yes, the bias is built into the system. DL's correct that we could get smaller government by ensuring that 50% of the people wanted it, but anything less than 50% (even if the majority of people were indifferent) would produce bigger government.

    Majority governments (which are extremely unlikely with PR) are also more likely to enact unpopular legislation, which we sometimes need. A minority parliament never would have passed the GST, for example, even though the GST was a really good idea.

    The mob doesn't always make good decisions. Having periodic elections rather than constant pandering forces them to reflect on their electoral decisions rather that just voting their kneejerk reactions all the time.

  16. Who needs democracy, we should just let an elite of benevolent dictators lord it over us. We common folks don't know what's good for us. What a medieval concept.

    I actually think that rightwing parties have it easy since they get to propose the most simplistic solution "I'll cut your taxes, build up the military and put all criminals in jail forever and throw away the key - and wink wink, nudge nudge - let's make sure women and minorities don't get too uppity". Its a lot easier to stand for that than to make the more complex intellectually challenging arguments that left of centre parties have to make.

  17. Leaving aside whether Europe would want North America's jobs market or whether proportional governments are really more likely to return activist governments; It strikes me that an arguement in favor of a less representative system on the basis of preferred policy outcomes isn't at all compatible with the usual pro-grassroots reform rhetoric in this country.

    Arguements towards small government and about the potential for mob rule certainly are at odds with attempt to reform the senate as a democratic, equal, and powerful institution.

    Arguing in favor of a system, on the basis of preferred policy outcomes is little different from demanding gerrymandering for preferred outcomes.

    I favor decisive government, but I know that there are plenty of good examples of non-FPTP systems that can produce it.

    My own personal favored idea for reform would simply be the transferable or preferential ballot (I don't know what it's called) for each MP's election. Majorities would still be very possible, and each MP would have to be the preferred candidate by the majority of their riding. (Or maybe a plurality after one recount or something)

  18. I like the idea of the preferential ballot too - that way we can have a national campaign telling people "We don't care who you vote for, just always put the Tory dead last"

  19. DL - I think it's the right-wing parties that have the more difficult task, because it's a lot more complicated to explain how lower business taxes reduce poverty. The left gets to hand out money, which seems like an easy solution to a lot of problems if you don't look at the perverse incentives it creates.

  20. Kevin,

    Despite DL's inane remark, nobody is suggesting any sort of doing away with democracy.

    A fixed election every four years (or more if we keep electing these minorities) as well as electing senators for a single ten year term seems like a perfectly sensible position to take, as well as keeping FPTP (if people want to vote strategically they don't need a preferential ballot to do so, polling usually shows who's got a shot and who doesn't ahead of the election.)

    You are right in pointing out that we have a tendency to point out systems based on wanting specific policy outcomes - but if the architecure of democracy is nessecarily biased doesn't it seem somewhat clueless to simply ignore the fact that bias is built into whatever system is in place ?

    Look at America where the founders put in place a system of checks and balances for the express purpose of diffusing power and keeping government out of people's lives.

    In Canada we used to have a system where provinces maintained an usual degree of power, only to have courts and activist Liberal governments centralize power in Ottawa over the years.

    When the democratic system rigs the game ahead of time it would be political malpractice for Ira, myself, or others not to advocate a system that advanced policy outcomes we honestly believe will help this country create jobs and prosperity.

  21. Jesse said:

    "In Canada we used to have a system where provinces maintained an usual degree of power, only to have courts and activist Liberal governments centralize power in Ottawa over the years."

    The normal concensus among political scientists is the opposite.

    The original written constitution gives the appearance of a very strong central government while the provinces approach something close to what Sir John A. Macdonald described as 'mere municipalities'.

    Court decisions over the early decades after Confederation displayed a more decentralizing trend. Those early interpretations have resulted in what some have described as the most decentralized federation in the world (with the _possible_ exception of Swizterland).

  22. Quite Correct Martin. The Peace, Order and Good Government clause which was thought by the founding fathers to give Ottawa any new or not specifically mentioned powers was not taken by the courts to mean anything like that. In addidition the everyday things that mean the most to Canadians are run by Provincial Governments of which we have far too many.

    PEI has a population of 122,000 smaller than many cities across Canada. New Bruswick comes in at 750,000, Nova Scotia at 900,000, and NL at 510,000 or less than 2,000,000 combined. Why are these not one province? SK and MB combined barely top 2,000,000. Again combine them. Forget history. Streamline govenment. Imagine 122,000 people have a federal, provincial and municipal government. What a total waste of money. Four different education departments, health departments etc. It's time Canada grew up.

  23. Just looking at the number of seats allocated in the House Of Commons it seems that the three provinces that have historically provided the money for equalization, BC, AB and ON, are all under represented in the House. The other provinces are all over represented, PEI by 65%. No wonder Canada is a mess!

    Perhaps before we worry about proportional representation we ought to worry about representation by population because the current situation is anything but democtratic.

  24. Jesse...

    No need...I'm in the majority - ie left of need to prove it to me and far you've failed.

    But I admire your effort.

  25. Anon,

    Sorry but I still maintain that its nonsense to add up BQ, Green, NDP, and Liberal support and assume they are all "left of centre".

    I suspect that if you conducted a poll and asked people their philisophical leanings the majority of Canadians would describe themselves as middle of the road, moderate types.

    P.S. - Bonus question, why do the Liberals support the Conservative plan to reduce the corporate tax rate in Canada while the NDP call it a give away to the big banks and big oil ??

    Could it be that, gasp, a certain segment of the Liberal party are actually quite fiscally Conservative!

    Who knew! (Ok, well a lot of people, pretty much anyone who took the time to analyze the party's various policy positions instead of just lumping everybody together as "left of centre".)

  26. PR discussion will not occur because of the NB Power deal. NBer's are pissed at the governing Liberals, and not all are yet flocking to the PCer's.

    From talking to my folks back home, who are old-school Liberal voters, they will never vote for the provincial Liberals again. They are undecided as to whom they will support, depending on who is the stronger candidiate in their riding between the PC and the NDP.

    This is the point of no return for the Liberals, everyone in NB knows what happened in NL (like my NL parents), with the Churchill Falls deal. Making a deal with Hydro Quebec will kill NB's economy through expensive power rates.

    If the trend continues and spred widens, then in the election the PCer's will whipout the Liberals, due to the nature of the FPTP system, with the possible election of 1 or 2 NDPer's, if and only if they have a strong leader and slate of candidates. But the Liberals have pissed of their core supporters, which they will be unable to retain most of their seats.

  27. Churchill Falls was a different situation. HQ has promised to freeze rates in NB and will be giving billions of dollars of tax savings to NB industries. If HQ can't make NB Power work well, maybe rates would rise but there's no reason to assume they will.

    New Brunswickers are now customers. Newfoundlanders were not.

  28. Hi Eric:

    I for one hope Graham backs down. Although I dislike Danny Williams with a passion, I do believe that Quebec has been unfair of its treatment of NL as regards Churchill Falls. Although within the letter of the law, Hydro Quebec are morally wrong IMO. I'm also concerned about Hydro Quebec using the purchase of NB Power to try and lever even more concessions from NL over the development of the lower Churchill.

    The agreement to export power through Hydro Quebec need never have been made, had the Federal government used its powers and granted NL right of passage for it power through Quebec. It is very sad to so one province take advantage of another as Quebec has taken advantage of NL over Churchill Falls.

  29. "Anonymous said...

    No need...I'm in the majority - ie left of need to prove it to me and far you've failed.

    But I admire your effort.

    25 November, 2009 23:11"

    That's something we'll never know until there is a untied left. You have to accept that there would voters switching to the CPC from all four parties on the left depending on how far left the New party was. Until then no-one knows how things would line up

  30. You know, it's ironic that a discussion about New Brunswick politics has turned into one about proportional representation and uniting the left. A few factoids with regard to New Brunswick:

    1)Had we had some form of proportional representation in NB during last election, be it mixed-member proportional or STV, Bernard Lord's Tories would almost certainly still be in power. With regard to NDP support - the NDP collapsed here in the last election, from its usual low-mid teens support levels to 5%, and polling showed that those supporters who abandoned the NDP preferred the Tories over the Liberals by a fairly hefty margin.

    2) Political ideology has almost no place in New Brunswick's politics. Our elections are never a clash of "left vs. right," but of "pave local roads vs. build a new highway," or "amalgamate hospital services vs. refurbish local ones." If ideology ever does come into play, it's usually a clash of Gordon Campbell-style pro-business neoliberalism vs. Brian Mulroney-style pro-business Red Toryism. In other words, not exactly a vote-getter.


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