Friday, June 17, 2011

Does thirst for change mean their time is up?

Change is in the air, as voters in Ontario and Quebec seem keen on exchanging their political leaders for something a little different.

So strong is the desire to the change status quo that there may be another wave coming that could potentially sweep out the Liberals in both provinces, and in one case, usher a non-existing party into power.

Quebecers demonstrated this appetite for change most dramatically in the last federal election. From nowhere, the New Democrats stormed to first place in the province and grabbed 43 per cent of the vote, winning 59 seats and taking votes primarily from the Bloc Québécois, but also the Conservatives and Liberals.

The Bloc Québécois had been the dominant party in the province for two decades, winning the majority of seats in Quebec in every election since 1993. Gilles Duceppe had been the province’s voice in the House of Commons as leader for 15 years.

Jack Layton offered a fresh face and only marginally different policy positions. Voters flocked to the NDP, with 28 per cent of Canadians throughout the country recently saying they cast their ballot for the New Democrats because the wanted change. Fully 45 per cent of NDP voters in Quebec mentioned a desire for change as their top motivation on Election Day, with another large portion saying they had simply had enough of the Bloc.

This disillusionment has transferred over to the provincial side.

You can read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post Canada website here.

But this thirst for change is not ubiquitous or homogeneous throughout the country.

A few governments have been in power for many years, but now have some fresh faces at the helm. That is the case with British Columbia, which has been governed by the Liberals for ten years now. But Christy Clark is the new leader, and is (barely) leading the NDP in the polls.

The Progressive Conservatives have governed Alberta since 1971, and are still the leading party in the polls. But Ed Stelmach is resigning as leader and the Wildrose Alliance will give the PCs a run for their money.

The New Democrats have governed Manitoba since 1999, but Greg Selinger took over from Gary Doer in 2009. Though a few months ago it looked like the PCs would come back to power in the province, the fall election should be closely contested.

And in Newfoundland & Labrador, the PC government has been in power as long as the Liberal ones in Ontario and Quebec. Kathy Dunderdale is a change of pace for the province, but it seems Danny Williams would have had an easier time winning his third majority mandate than Dunderdale will have winning her first.