Fall ses­sion wraps up for pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL - Andy Walker Andy Walker is an Is­land-based writer and com­men­ta­tor. His col­umn ap­pears ev­ery other week in the Jour­nal Pi­o­neer.

If there is one word that de­scribes the fall ses­sion of the leg­is­la­ture that con­cluded this week, it would have to be non-de­script.

De­spite the fact an elec­tion is prob­a­bly on the hori­zon next spring, all three par­ties called the 14-day sit­ting one of the least par­ti­san in re­cent mem­ory. The op­po­si­tion col­lec­tively got three bills passed (two for the Con­ser­va­tives and the firstever bill de­vel­oped by the Green Party). Most of the gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion was house­keep­ing in na­ture.

There is a pos­si­bil­ity the cur­rent crop of 27 MLAs has gath­ered for the last time, but the smart money is on a short spring sit­ting. The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will likely bring in a bud­get with some pre-elec­tion good­ies and use it as a ba­sis for their cam­paign; with the econ­omy “on a tear” as Premier Wade MacLauch­lan is fond of say­ing, it is clear the theme of their cam­paign will be strong fis­cal man­age­ment of the econ­omy.

De­spite the Is­land’s eco­nomic suc­cess, the Lib­er­als have been slip­ping in the polls. Wait­ing un­til the spring of 2020 (that would be re­quired un­der the fixed elec­tion law since there is a fed­eral vote next Oc­to­ber) is a non-starter. All of the par­ties al­ready have many of their can­di­dates nom­i­nated and the premier can claim next spring will mark four years in of­fice - the tra­di­tional man­date for an Is­land gov­ern­ment. Wait­ing longer than that would look like they are hang­ing on power and “Run­ning Scared” never works well as a cam­paign theme song.

The op­po­si­tion Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives are hop­ing the ex­cite­ment of their Feb. 9 lead­er­ship con­ven­tion (the third since 2015) will give them mo­men­tum head­ing into the vote.

The new leader will have lit­tle time to rest on his or her lau­rels as they will prob­a­bly only have a cou­ple of months to re­cruit can­di­dates and in­tro­duce them­selves to Is­lan­ders.

For Dr. Pe­ter Be­van-Baker and the Green Party, the chal­lenge is to main­tain the mo­men­tum gen­er­ated by the elec­tion of Hannah Bell and strong per­for­mances in the polls for the last sev­eral months. That suc­cess means both the me­dia and vot­ers will be pay­ing more at­ten­tion to their poli­cies and plat­form. Mean­while, the NDP and leader Joe Byrne have to fight to be rec­og­nized, es­pe­cially dur­ing the leg­is­la­ture ses­sion when they have no pres­ence in­side the rail. Byrne has been work­ing hard, es­pe­cially on so­cial me­dia, to raise the party pro­file. For­mer party leader Dr. Herb Dick­ieson is mak­ing a re­turn as the party’s can­di­date, run­ning against Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries Min­is­ter Robert Hen­der­son in O’Leary In­ver­ness, and act­ing as ru­ral af­fairs critic.

While things will be wind­ing down on the po­lit­i­cal front in next week or so for the hol­i­days, the break will be short lived. The five peo­ple vy­ing for the Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship will be back woo­ing del­e­gates soon af­ter the dec­o­ra­tions are put away.

The new year will likely fea­ture both pro­vin­cial and fed­eral elec­tions so there should be no short­age of ac­tiv­ity to keep po­lit­i­cal pun­dits and ob­servers busy for the next sev­eral months.

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