Absolute power is last thing we need
If there was ever a provincial election in our history any more predictable than our last trip to the polls in 2007 under Dynamic Danny, it would have to be the one taking place next Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Everybody knows, or think they know, the Tories are going to win the election hands down.
Now loyal Liberals and committed New Democrats wouldn’t agree with that — at least not publicly. But privately, even staunch, die-hard Grits whose mothers and fathers before them have not voted any other way since Confederation, will admit their greatest fear is that between Kathy Dunderdale and Lorraine Michael, they are going to be wiped off the political map on Oct. 11.
With the polls showing the Liberals in third place behind the New Democrats and said to be bleeding support to the NDP, not to mention scrambling to find candidates at the last minute, any fears of political annihilation may not be that far out in left field.
Outside of Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair and The Straits-White Bay North, are there any safe Liberal seats in the province? Are even those seats safe this time around?
Despite the polls, history has shown anything can happen on polling day. For example, in the provincial general election of 1989, Tom Rideout and his Tories were leading Clyde Wells’ Grits in the polls at the start of the campaign. By the time polling day rolled around, the Tories managed to win the popular vote, but Wells had won what really counted, enough seats to form a comfortable majority government, despite not winning his own seat. That was a strange one indeed! But one not likely to be repeated this time around.
A more recent example of polling day anomalies took place in the May federal election. At the beginning of that campaign, not even the pundits could predict in their wildest dreams, the orange surge that swept over Quebec, wiping out the Bloc, and making the NDP the official opposition for the first time in Canadian history.
The provincial NDP are hoping some of that orange glow will cross the straits and shine on them on Oct. 11.
But outside Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, is there a safe NDP seat in this province? For their sake, there had better be, if they hope to replace the Liberals as the official opposition in these parts.
Besides the handful of districts that could go either way on election night, those that could be termed too close to call and interesting to watch, are few and far between.
Lucky for us, one of them happens to be in our neck of the woods. Port de Grave is close enough to at least keep viewers awake, if not on the edge of their chesterfields on election night.
If the Tories do sweep the province next week, it may be good for Kathy Dunderdale and her party. But not so hot for democracy, which always works best with an effective opposition to act as a watchdog and keep a government on its toes, especially a bloated one.
The last thing we need is to be governed by any political party with absolute power. We came close enough to that sorry state after the last provincial election.
Back in the 1960s when the once great and well oiled Liberal Party machine was in top gear and going at full throttle, steamrolling every Tory and socialist in sight, Joey used to joke about possibly having to “appoint an opposition” after the next election.
In the name of democracy and good government, if there is such an animal, after Oct. 11, let’s hope Kathy Dunderdale doesn’t have to go that far.
— Bill Bowman, The Compass