Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ashton, Dewar, and Paillé pick up new endorsements

Manitoba is putting its weight behind two candidates for the race to be the next New Democratic leader, though that hasn't changed the breakdown of the three frontrunners, while the Bloc Québécois moves into the final days of its leadership campaign.

Niki Ashton is this week's big mover, as she has picked up the endorsement of a smattering of Manitoba MLAs (including her father) as well as the MP for Joliette, Francine Raynault. Ashton has jumped up 7.5 points in the endorsement rankings, now giving her a total of 17.5 points, or 4.0% of the total. She has moved from seventh to fifth in the rankings.

Paul Dewar is also up this week, thanks to more endorsements from the Manitoba NDP. He also picked up the endorsement of Catherine Bell, former NDP MP from British Columbia. This puts him up 5.5 points for a total of 16, or 3.6% of the total. He is still in sixth.

Also moving this week but not due to any new endorsements is Robert Chisholm. The Nova Scotia MLAs who endorsed him along with their premier, Darrell Dexter, have been added to the endorsement rankings. This does not move Chisholm from fourth, but gives him an extra 4.5 points for 4.4% of the total.

Moving downwards is Nathan Cullen, who has dropped from fifth place to seventh in the endorsement rankings.

These are small movements when taking into account the gap that exists between the top tier candidates (Brian Topp, Thomas Mulcair, and Peggy Nash) and the second tier candidates. With the endorsement of Pierre Ducasse (who I haven't added to the rankings, as he doesn't fit into any of the categories), Nash is looking like a good compromise candidate if the party splits between Topp and Mulcair.

Chisholm, Ashton, Dewar, and Cullen look to be the second tier candidates, with Chisholm getting much of the Atlantic Canada vote, Ashton and Dewar the Manitoba vote, and Cullen some of the British Columbian vote. This puts Ashton and Dewar at a disadvantage, as they appear to be fishing the same pond, though Dewar is likely to get more Canada-wide support as well.

There has also been a little movement in the race for the Bloc Québécois leadership. The last debate was held last night, and for all intents and purposes the campaign is as good as over. The deadline for submitting the mail-in ballot is Monday.

The only change this week is Daniel Paillé's pick-up of former MP Raynald Blais. This might seem relatively mundane, but it is a more important endorsement than it appears at first glance.

Blais was the MP for Gaspésie - Iles-de-la-Madeleine before the 2011 election, and he also had the good sense to resign before the debacle. He doesn't have the stigma of having been rejected by the voters, but more importantly he is a former MP from the Gaspésie, the same region as Jean-François Fortin. The Gaspésie is a close-knit community, so for Blais to opt for the Montreal-based Paillé rather than a fellow Gaspesian is not insignificant.

(Click here for a description of the point system, and here for a breakdown on how points are assigned.)

But though the Bloc Québécois race is coming to an end, the New Democratic race is just getting started. The first debate is scheduled for next month and attention is going to turn from these preliminary maneuvers to the nitty-gritty. It should be an interesting contest.