Musings —09.06.2016 12:00 AM—
Change? No thanks.
It’s the end of Summer, at least politically. Legislatures will soon back in session. How are the major players doing?
Out in British Columbia, Christy Clark owns the strongest economy in the federation. However much the BC NDP try to lay a glove on her, they can’t. She’s got the biggest smile in Canadian politics, and for good reason. She’s winning.
In my Alberta home, I don’t think Rachel Notley is doing nearly as badly as pundits and politicos claim. Her main opposition remains divided, she is impossible to dislike on a personal level, and there isn’t much (apart from an in-recession carbon tax) that you couldn’t picture her opponents also doing. Jason Kenney who?
In Saskatchewan, Brad Wall remains a political phenomenon. His cabinet may have experienced a few bumps along the road this Summer, but Wall’s amalgam of provincial conservatives and liberals remain hugely popular – because of Wall. He’s tough, he’s strategic, and he’s one of the best political communicators around.
In Manitoba, credit where credit is due: Premier Brian Pallister has been a lot more impressive than MP Brian Pallister. Back in his Ottawa days, Pallister was known for being in multiple political parties at once – and for occasionally intemperate remarks about women and others. In power, he’s calmed down. It looks good on him.
In Ontario, Kathleen Wynne – like Notley, who gets written off for a lot of the same reasons – is impossible to dislike. She’s like everyone’s favourite aunt. That said, polls suggest she and her party are in big trouble. The good news for Wynne: she’s got a balanced budget coming in the next fiscal, the next election is almost two years away, and her main opponents are in witness protection. Don’t write her off yet.
In Quebec, Canada benefits from the most pro-Canada Quebec Premier in generations – Philippe Couillard. Don’t underestimate his influence at the federal level, either: when Couillard said that Justin Trudeau was wrong on engaging ISIS, the youthful Liberal leader executed a whiplash-inducing flip flop immediately thereafter. As long as the PQ remain where they are – leaderless, witless and clueless – this guy will be Premier as long as he wants.
In New Brunswick, Brian Gallant’s Liberals remain about 30 points above his Tory opponents – despite a string of cabinet-level controversies. He’s the reason: New Brunswickers like him, a lot.
In Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil has balanced the budget, and is broadly hinting that he may call an early – really early – election, this Fall. David Peterson did that, and regretted it. Jean Chretien did it twice, and it worked both times. My hunch: McNeil will win again.
In PEI, Wade MacLauchlan’s popularity may have slipped, somewhat – but his party maintains a massive 40-point lead over the Island Tories. MacLauchlan sleeps well every night.
In Newfoundland and Labador, the pro-Liberal trend in the Atlantic region is upended: Dwight Ball and his Grits are very unpopular. The reason: he did what he said he wouldn’t ever do – impose a budget full of tax hikes and austerity measures.
Federally? Well, federally, that Trudeau guy continues to dominate: his honeymoon, like someone said, has turned into a durable marriage with voters. He’s still pretty likeable, and his two main opponents are leaderless. Not bad.
His vulnerabilities: ministerial expense account-itis, a tendency to raise expectations that can’t be satisfied, and a solipsism that – sooner or later – will rankle voters.
Surveying the Canadian political landscape, then, the tweet-sized summary is this: incumbency is good.
If you hold power now, chances are you will continue to do so.
Change? Who needs it.