Political stories to watch in 2019

2019 could lead to political turnover across the country, these four races are why

Illustration by Austin Willis, Design Director.

With the New Year comes new resolutions, and for many incumbent politicians across the country, one such resolution may be how to find a way to stay in power.

A by-election on Jan. 30 has the chance to topple the B.C. provincial NDP and Green minority government; voters in Alberta will head to the polls in the spring for a provincial election; we may see the first provincial Green government in power in P.E.I.; and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will run for a second term later this year.

Whether it’s at the provincial level, federal, or both, Canadians will have an opportunity to have their voices heard in shaping the political future of our country in 2019.

Looking at the early polls, it seems like Canadians are getting frustrated with their current representatives, as many pollsters are predicting serious political turnover.

The Toronto Sun reported the federal Conservatives hold a nine-point lead over Trudeau’s Liberals, while the Alberta United Conservative Party maintain a 15 per cent lead over Rachel Notley’s NDP government.

Meanwhile, a recent Nanaimo by-election poll had NDP candidate Sheila Malcolmson and Liberal Tony Harris in a dead heat.

With the political winds swirling early in 2019, here’s a breakdown of the four different elections that could shift the balance of power across the country.

 

B.C. by-election: Jan. 30

“We are in the campaign of our lives,” Malcolmson said at her campaign launch earlier this month. Malcolmson is running to replace long-time Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog, who resigned last year to become the city’s mayor.

A Liberal win in Nanaimo would upset the NDP/Green majority — the two parties currently hold a combined 43 seats (the NDP’s 40 plus the Green’s three) which is one more than the Liberal’s 42 — and would create a tie at 43 in the B.C. legislature. A former Liberal party member and now an Independent, speaker Darryl Plecas would then be asked to break the tie, which would likely spark an early general election.

With the future of B.C.’s coalition government hanging in the balance, all eyes across the province will be focused on the Harbour City this January.

However, Nanaimo has been favourable towards the NDP in the past, voting NDP in 13 of the past 15 elections, and Krog won the Island riding by almost 4 000 votes in the 2017 election.

Regardless, with the future of B.C.’s coalition government hanging in the balance, all eyes across the province will be focused on the Harbour City this January.

 

Alberta general election: Spring 2019

Alberta, traditionally Canada’s most conservative stronghold, shocked the country when an orange wave swept across the province back in 2015.

The NDP won 53 ridings, including all 19 seats in Edmonton, to form a majority government. Four years later, though, and many pundits are saying it’s a longshot for Premier Rachel Notley to stay in power.

Both CBC and Abacus data polls have projected the toppling of Notley’s NDP government in 2019.

Alberta has never had a one-term government, but after the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties — the province’s two right-wing groups — voted to merge into one conservative party (United Conservative Party) in 2017, both CBC and Abacus data polls have projected the toppling of Notley’s NDP government in 2019.

An election is expected to be called sometime between March 1 and May 31.

 

P.E.I general election: October 2019

Having elected the first woman premier, openly-gay premier, and first premier of non-European descent in the past, Prince Edward Island is no stranger to progressive ideologies.

2019 is shaping up to be no different, as a new poll has the tiny island potentially voting in its very first Green government. A Corporate Research Associates (CRA) poll of 300 Islanders in August had the Greens with the edge over the Liberals, although the study was within the margin of error.

Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker, however, was polling well ahead of his competition in terms of popularity. With a province of 153 000 feeling like the governing Liberals have become stale (they’ve ruled for 11 years over three terms), some believe this could be the year for change.

Prince Edward Island is no stranger to progressive ideologies.

“We’ve been tracking their momentum for well over a year,” said David Mills, CEO of CRA. “It’s real.”

“This seems to have really spooked the Liberals… They’re not afraid of losing the election. They just don’t want to go into a minority,” said University of P.E.I. political science professor Don Desserud to the Guardian in December.

One poll isn’t enough to clinch a Green victory this fall, but, as Desserud put it, the Liberals have taken notice of the recent Green surge in Canada’s smallest province.

 

Federal election: Oct. 21

According to some polls, the conservatives could potentially take on the Liberals in the upcoming federal election in the fall of this year — though it is still too early to make any sweeping conclusions.

In a random sampling held by Forum research in early December 43 per cent of voters said they would vote Conservative to the Liberal’s 34 per cent, and it’s looking more and more likely that Justin Trudeau will face a stiff test to re-election.

You better be ready for a feisty campaign and tight election come 10 months from now.

Trudeau has angered voters in B.C. for remaining committed to building the Trans Mountain pipeline, while premiers in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ontario have all pushed back against Trudeau’s plan to implement a carbon tax on pollution.

However, a CBC poll held on Oct. 21, 2018 — exactly one year before the election — gave Trudeau’s Liberals a four per cent advantage over the Conservative party.

A lot can change in a year, and with Trudeau already calling the 2019 election campaign ‘the nastiest one yet’, you better be ready for a feisty campaign and tight election come 10 months from now.

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