Looking to the future
Premier Paul Davis was generally upbeat during his visit to Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises last week. He shook hands with new and familiar faces, made light-hearted jokes with reporters covering his campaign, and flashed a smile that didn’t appear to be strained.
An election campaign is no doubt a grueling affair, with different events to attend each and every day. It’s certainly not an ideal endeavor for introverts or those who are a little socially awkward.
Davis is out to fight the good fight for the party he chose to try and lead after entering leadership race last year following the resignation of Kathy Dunderdale. He surely knew it would be an uphill battle, given the Progressive Conservatives’ steady decline in popularity over the last few years.
We’re now two weeks away from election day, and it would seem his party’s fortunes are no better than they were in the last few months. Indeed, the Liberals are still seen as the frontrunners, and the latest polling news would suggest Justin Trudeau’s big win federally is helping that cause.
The PCs are feeling that pressure in a number of ways. In 2011, the Liberals had trouble finding people to run in some districts. Now it’s the PCs turn to learn how frustrating that can be.
Carbonear-Trinity-Bay De Verde was among the districts last week still awaiting a PC candidate.
The election campaign is not lighting much of a fire under the public.
Coming off a long federal election campaign and with Christmas just over a month away (sales are around every corner), there are plenty of distractions out there.
With the amount of time left to campaign, it’s inevitable that Davis will not be the premier of this province in the New Year. He probably knows this himself, even if it’s not something he’d admit publicly.
Knowing what he knows, it can’t be easy for Davis to talk about policy and government commitments when the odds are he’ll be Leader of the Opposition (he should be able to hold on to his seat in Topsail-Paradise).
Had he lost the PC leadership race last year to John Ottenheimer, maybe Davis would have been able to make a fresh start down the road as a leader and take his party into an election against a Liberal party with four years governing under its belt. Who knows how that scenario might’ve played out.
Hypotheticals aside, it will be interesting to see how the PCs adjust to being opposition members in the House, and who is left to be a part of that process.
The prominent PC incumbents all face stiff opposition. With that in mind, Davis should be strategic when considering how he uses his time between now and Nov. 30. Chances are, his minions will need all the help they can get.