Monday, May 23, 2005

Super Tuesday

Just when you thought it was over comes a by-election in Labrador which has to ability to throw a monkey wrench into the entire mess that is Canadian politics. The election is to fill the seat left vacant when Liberal MP Lawrence O'Brien died last year December. Even though it's been a Liberal riding for decades, this year the Conservatives are pushing hard to try and win this seat, and through it, a possible tie breaking vote in the House of Commons. I have a bit of a personal stake in this one since it's my hometown riding (born and raised) and my parents and brother (along with the rest of his brood) still live there.

Since this is already being discussed over at Captain Quarters in several posts, I figured I'd save myself some time and copy over a comment I posted there earlier.

I'd say this is probably the best chance the Conservatives will have at taking the riding. Letto (the Conservative candidate) is from Lab City (my hometown and the largest population base) and is well liked there.

Russell (the Lib), is from Goose Bay (only other large pop center in Labrador) but has either personally, or through his party, managed to tick off a lot of people.

First there are the natives (spread all along the coast), by opposing the land claims deal that has taken forever to finalize. It already passed in the Province and all it needs is federal approval to become law. My Brother, who is teaching in a predominately native community, has said they are more likely to burn Russell in effigy than vote for him.

Then there's the gun registry issue. Everyone in Labrador has a shotgun or rifle or three in the house and were uniformly PO'd at the gun registry. With the Conservatives already on record for wanting it scrapped and the Liberals for keeping it going, it's looking like another weight tied to Russell's feet.

And finally, there is the Wabush airport (other side of the lake from Lab City). The Libs want to privatize it while the Conservatives want to keep it in federal hands. It's a small non-profitable airport that provides about 20k people with their only air access. Not the most attractive purchase for prospective buyers. If it goes private and service declines, as is normally expected, there will be blood in the streets. I can tell you from personal experience that people there don't like their airport messed with. Even under Federal control the airport is not the best, privately owned, it would be a disaster.

Just last Christmas I had to spend 3 days, including Christmas Day, in an airport in Sept Isles, Quebec (about the same population as your local Wal-Mart) waiting for the Wabush crew to clean the runway of ice. Finally the Iron Ore Company and the Union put a train on for us, an 8 hour trip, which they got a volunteer crew to drive in on Christmas night. If the airport goes private, I can see this happening a lot. It's expensive to keep runways clear in an area where -40C is considered good skiing weather and high school only closes if it drops below -78C.

This page has a little more on the actual candidates.

This is probably the last, best chance to take control away from the Liberal/NDP block. With this extra seat, all the opposition need to take down the government is 1 independent to side with them (and they already have that). Although Harper has stated he will not make a move to take down the government until after the summer break, if they win this seat, as soon as parliament is back in session after the break then he can call for a non-confidence motion.

Here's hoping.
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Update:

All hope is gone as the Liberal Candidate once again won the Labrador seat. Just look at Fubar's comment in this thread at Captain's Quarters. I Guess 40+ years of voting Liberal is just not something that's easily shaken.

So we'll have to wait for the promised election call after the Gomery report. Although if the pattern of previous Liberal promises holds true Martin will find some excuse not to have an election or more likely, they'll reach into the old Liberal playbook and find a way to close the Gomery Inquiry before it finishes, thereby at least appearing to keep his promise. No report, no election.

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