Friday, March 6, 2015

Landslide in store for the next province to hit the hustings

A new premier, taking over a party that has a stranglehold on the legislature, will likely seek a mandate of his own this spring. Against him will be a trio of rookie opposition party leaders, who will be going on the hustings for the first time themselves.

The Official Opposition leader will have the least amount of time for voters to get to know him, as the party was the last to fill the slot. And the party has had a very tough time. Since the last election, the caucus has been reduced significantly due to floor-crossing and the departure of its leader, who could no longer sit with her party in the legislature. It's been a whirlwind few years in Charlottetown.

Wait, did you think I was talking about Alberta?

Why no, this political drama has been taking place in Canada's littlest province!

Some background before we get to the latest numbers from Prince Edward Island:

That new premier is Wade MacLauchlan, who was just a few weeks ago named as former premier Robert Ghiz's replacement. His party took 22 of 27 seats in the 2011 provincial election, leaving the Progressive Conservatives under Olive Crane to provide a tiny opposition (to put it into perspective, a similarly sized opposition in the House of Commons would have 57 seats).

The Tories have been in turmoil for most of the last few years. Crane announced she would resign as leader at the end of 2012, and MLA Hal Perry took over Official Opposition duties. But then Steven Myers won the interim leadership in early 2013, and for a confusing few days Perry wanted to stay as opposition leader as Myers ran the party. That didn't last very long, and by the end of the year Perry crossed the floor to the Liberals and Crane was booted out of the party and has been sitting as an independent ever since.

Rob Lantz was named the new leader of the PCs on February 28, and will be one of four rookie leaders in the upcoming campaign. Mike Redmond will be leading the NDP and Peter Bevan-Baker will head up the Greens. In 2011, the leaders of these respective parties had been James Rodd and Sharon Labchuk.

The new poll by Corporate Research Associates shows that the Liberals are doing very well under MacLauchlan (though he was named Liberal leader on February 21, late into CRA's polling dates, nominations closed at the end of January and MacLauchlan was the only candidate). The party led with 58% support, up eight points since CRA's previous survey of Nov. 5-25.

The Progressive Conservatives were up slightly by three points to 26% (their numbers are pre-Lantz), while the NDP and Greens were down three and seven points to 12% and 4%, respectively.

None of these shifts were outside the margin of error.

Nevertheless, this is the best number the Liberals have put up in any poll since August 2011, just before the last election. And this after a period of stability, as the party was polling between 48% and 53% between November 2013 and November 2014. Indeed, with only a few exceptions, the party has barely wavered from the 50% mark since the last vote.

For the Tories, their results are par for the course as the party has been polled at between 23% and 28% since May. It will be interesting to see what effect Lantz has on the numbers. He takes over a party that is in better shape than it was in 2013 and early 2014, when the New Democrats were in second place.

The NDP has been steadily dropping, however, and this latest poll is their worst since February 2012.

The Greens were at an anomalous 11% in November, so the drop of seven points is somewhat exaggerated. Normally, the party polls between 3% and 7%, so they are well-within those levels.

With such a wide lead over the opposition, MacLauchlan would preside over another landslide if an election were held today. He'd likely win 25 seats, with the Tories taking the other two. Again, to put that into perspective, that is the equivalent of a government winning 285 seats in the current 308-seat House of Commons, with the opposition winning the remaining 23.

On who would make the best premier, MacLauchlan was well ahead with 42%, one point up on Ghiz's performance in November and better than any numbers Ghiz managed since the last election. Myers, in his last poll as interim leader, was at just 10%, while Redmond was at 14%. That was a drop of three points and his lowest number as NDP leader.

Prince Edward Islanders seem satisfied with the government, with 44% saying they are completely or mostly satisfied, compared to 30% who are dissatisfied. The remaining 26% aren't sure, an understandably big jump from 8% in November considering the change in leadership.

So MacLauchlan stands a strong chance of securing a mandate of his own when the next election is called. The wildcard will certainly be Lantz, who has a chance to give the Tories a fresh face and a new start. With so few voters in the province to persuade (75,000 in 2011), dramatic swings can easily occur. But the hill may be too high to climb for Lantz in such a short time.


  1. wow, 1 MLA for every 2778 voters. that's ridiculous.

    almost as ridiculous as them having 4 seats in the HOC and Senate.

    1. At some point, you need a minimum amount of MLAs. Being a province, they have all the same responsibilities as Ontario. Can't have much of a cabinet (and an opposition) if you have a dozen MLAs.

    2. true, but the associated costs just make government costs more of a burden on the taxpayers.. but i guess they get those equalization payments.

      or they could just make it part of NB

    3. They could make MLA a volunteer position and not pay them. Like the town council of a small village.

      But to allow for a cabinet and opposition, they probably need at least 24 MLAs.

    4. I don't see the problem with that at all. They do have more seats than the 3 territories, which makes sense because PEI has about as many people as 4 territories. If anything, the HoC should just get more MPs to balance it out.

  2. Eric, you linked to a 2007 article. The size of the PEI MLA is misleading as it's there is no lower level of government for 31% of the population and 70% of the island. Really, they are a small town in the guise of a province. On average, there as a 310 gap between first and second or 11.6% of the voters. That's more than just a few people changing their minds.

    This modelling exercise brings up the question of how sensitive the model is to polling margin of error?

    1. Whoops, sorry. Fixed the link.

      The ranges are meant to take into account during an election campaign. For now, I just plug the numbers in and get a hard result.

    2. I understand the ranges, but PEI is an interesting example of where the model breaks down. For 2011, the ranges were only 1 seat wide, but that seems quite tight when all polls had a margin error of +/- 5.7%, putting the Liberals and PC in a plausable tie within the margins.

    3. I was using a different system in 2011, the current system would have wider ranges.

  3. Total ridiculous... How does a province with a total population of 140,000 justify 27 MLAs?

    Add that to their 4 Federal MPs.. mayor and 10 councilors of Charlotetown There is basically nobody left on the Island to pick potatoes and pretend they are Anne of Green Gables.

    If small province Manitoba used the same representation model as PEI instead of 56 there would be MLAs there would be 233 MLAs

    In BC we would go from 85 to 847!!!

    Since the BC MLA is doing 10 times the "work" as a PEI MLA they should get paid 10 times more than than the 68K the PEI gets paid 680K instead of the 102K they get.

    The base salary for a BC MLA 102 K and the

    1. Quit hyperventilating, a province needs enough MLAs to run it. And we can play your game forever. Why, Ontario has just 107 MPPs for 13.6 million people, or one for every 127,000. Why on earth does BC need 85 MLAs? They can make do with just 36! Manitoba needs just 10! And PEI can have just one.

    2. Eric
      Well said. But I think BCVoR seems to enjoy hyperventilating.

    3. You have a point: WE do have too much government in BC and for sure in Manitoba where I also lived.

      The millions upon millions could be much better spent on infrastructure than on a job creation program for the political elite.

    4. I more apt comparison is the NWT which has 45K people and 19 MLAs.

    5. Leaving aside the size of government discussion, people who suggest cutting beaurcracy to pay for infrastructure have things completely out of proportion. Assuming the $2.8M per year currently spent of PEI governance was the same value as compared to inflation of construction costs, then since Confederation a sum total of 114km could have been built instead. Even in PEI, this is only half way across the province.

      I'm suprised the Lieutenant Governor wasn't on the list.

    6. But $2.8 million sounds like such a BIG NUMBER.

    7. BCVoR - If PEI wants to be that inefficient, that's up the them. That's why we have provinces - so smaller groups of people can decide how they are governed.

      Don't like it? Don't live there.

  4. How the heck does the City of Kelowna do it?

    I am taking Kelowna as a representative city with the same population as PEI. I feel comfortable the same would apply to Trois Rivieres or Kingston.

    Same population as all of PEI and Kelowna gets along with 1 mayor and 8 Councillors... (Councillors get 32K/year) They get 1 federal MP... not to themselves as the Federal riding of Kelowna also includes a suburb: Lake Country.

    They get almost 2 provincial MPs: Kelowna-Mission and Kelowna-Lake Country.

    So there is total of 12 politicians representing the 140,000 people of Kelowna. Total salaries of politicians in Kelowna:

    MP 160,000
    MLA 2X 102,000 = 208,000
    Mayor 90,000
    Councillors 8 * 32,000= 256,000

    Grand total: $714,000

    I would venture to say that Kelowna has all the functions and services that are required and would have a larger GDP than PEI.

    Kelowna does not get the Federal equalization payments of 340 Million that PEI requires to support their political upper class.

    41 full time well paid politicians.... another 9 part timers from Summerside

    4 MPS 4* 160= 640,000
    27 MLAs 27 * 67,000= 1,809,000
    Mayor of Charlottetown = 48,000
    Councillors: 8 @ 23,000 = 184,000
    Total 2,681,000

    You can basically double both totals when you count in pension and benefits,

    It is pure unadulterated BS that PEI is a have not province that needs equalization payment when they can afford somewhere well around 4 times the expense of government in most jurisdictions in Canada.
    It is an obvious problem when the “leaders” are using up way more than their share of the resources.

    It is not an income problem.... it is a spending problem.

    1. "I would venture to say that Kelowna has all the functions and services that are required and would have a larger GDP than PEI."

      That is just wrong. PEI has to run the province's health care system and education system, along with a myriad of other things that are provincial responsibilities. Kelowna does not have any of these responsibilities, and has no more than Charlottetown has.

    2. Kelowna has 2 representatives on the provincial government that represents and directs the bureaucracy that delivers Education and Health care.

      These two people are adequate representation for Kelowna . Why do the 140,000 people getting health and education services need 27 representatives in PEI.

      Does it result in better quality of services?

    3. Éric, you don't understand. BCVoR doesn't think education and health should be paid by the province, hence the reason why the PEI provincial government has the same responsabilities as the Kelowna municipal structure. If that is not the case, I cannot fathom how someone who presents himself as knowing the political environment in Canada can advance such a claim...

    4. @BC Voice of Reason. On this one, you're not making much logical 'Reason'. Kelowna can get by on 8 Councillors as they're governing a land mass of 62 sq/km or about equal the size of my neighbourhood here in Ottawa (land mass 2700 sq/km, which also happens to be over 4 times the land mass of Toronto and 25 times the land mass of Vancouver!). PEI is over 5,000 sq/km of governance. Heck, I guess that means Nunavut which has 22 MLAs for a population of 32,000, should only have about 4 MLAs...think of all the tie votes there'd be in the'd that be for productive government! BUT these 22 Nunavut MLAs represent a land mass of +2 MILLION sq/km. I don't think people in Kugluktuk would be very happy to have an MLA representing them who lives in Iqaluit or the folks of Grise Fiord in Nunavut's most northerly community be represented 2200km away in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut's most southern community. The smaller a province/territory's population is, it's rather obvious that proportionately to its total population that it needs a large government/public service in order to provide the same level of public services as in a Province about 100 times larger. In business, it's called fixed costs (i.e. costs that are there no matter how small or big you are), yet no one on here is ranting about hallowed private sector fixed costs. If PEI are so over-represented, then why in the heck did the so-called 'smaller government federal Conservatives' feel the need to add a ridiculous 30 additional seats to the House, which just happens to be 3 more than all the MLAs in PEI?

    5. Why 30 more MPs? Because a basic pillar of democracy was being defeated. Representation by population.

      The correct fix was to have a re-distribution of seats to represent today's Canada. But the entrenched entitlements of PEI (down 3 seats) Atlantic Canada down 8 seats and Quebec down 3 seats and their inability to do the right thing results in having to add more seats to get closer to ideal.

      In another 20-30 years there will be 400+ MPs as BC and Alberta start reaching their potential.

      As to your absurd argument that 27 MLAs are required to cover PEI's huge land mass!! That is almost to crazy to comment.

      The absolutely largest drive from Charlottetown is is 1 hr 50 minutes to Tignish. The drive to Summerside is less than 1 hour.

      These are somewhat common commutes for far more than 140,000 people in the GTA.

      The fixed costs are in the delivery of services, which PEI certainly has, but how does having your own private MLA is just unnecessary overhead.

      Elected representation in no way equates with level of public services.

    6. The problem with your suggestion of redistribution is the Canadian Constitution, which guarantees PEI a minimum of 4 senators and an equal minimum of MPs. Furthermore, Section 51A rule 2, does not allow the number of seats to be reduced below 1985 levels. So that also strikes off your reductions in NS and NB, unless you think Harper can pull off a Constitutional amendment?

    7. @BCVoR, the point I'm trying to make is PEI, while obviously the country's smallest Provincial jurisdiction, is still vastly larger than Kelowna; 89 times larger to be precise (oh and the drive across Kelowna is about 15 minutes, so what's your point?) and a Province, regardless of size still requires a FIXED amount of services and ministries and local my Nunavut analogy above would people in Summerside want to be represented by an MLA from Charlottetown? Harper, with all of his Minsters of State for this and that handed out to his ultra loyalists has a massive cabinet. What do you expect PEI to do, have 8 MLAs like Kelowna has 8 councillors? If the Libs, Cons and NDP in PEI were split 3-3-2, who would form the government? Or how about if one party swept all 8 seats, who would be the opposition? In addition, you still need a Speaker of the House and a Premier, so with that you have 6 other sitting MLAs. So then what, the governing party has 2 MLAs in cabinet, a Minister of Finance and then a Minister of Everything Else? Why don't we just relocate PEI's house to a local Timmies in the process and sit at a couple of benches sipping coffee and eating taxpayer-funded donuts? Explain to me how you can operate a Provincial/Territorial legislature, including a Premier, Speaker, Ministers, Back Benchers, Leader of the Official Opposition, Opposition Caucus without a minimum number of representatives? With political parties, 27 seems about as low to me as you can possibly go to accomplish all of the above. Nunavut can get away with 22 MLAs because a) their population is 1/4 that of PEI and b) there are no political parties in Nunavut to worry about to represent an Official Opposition.

  5. Do you see the Globe eGaming story as a factor in the polls or just a distraction?


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