ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Five things to know about the provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador, scheduled for Nov. 30.
Tory slide: In power for the past 12 years, the governing Progressive Conservatives have experienced a plunge in popularity since former leader Danny Williams left politics in 2010. Since then, the party has been hurt by caucus defections, multiple byelection losses and an unpopular budget that eliminated 1,200 public service jobs.
NDP role: The New Democrats are led by former union leader Earle McCurdy, whose long career with the Fish Food and Allied Workers union gave him a high profile. However, the party has never won more than five seats in a provincial election and its reputation was tarnished by an ugly leadership feud that ended in January after a year of infighting.
Liberal strategy: The Liberals, led by former businessman Dwight Ball, have adopted a classic front-runner strategy marked by a carefully scripted approach designed to offend as few voters as possible. “If they don’t take a lot of risks, they’re going to be good to go,” says Don Mills, head of the market research firm Corporate Research Associates.
Government spending: Between 2003 and 2015, annual government spending increased from $5 billion to $8 billion, but provincial finances have been hurt by the drop in world oil prices. In 2013, about one third of provincial revenue came from the offshore energy sector, but that figure has since dropped to about 20 per cent, leaving a projected $1 billion deficit in the 2015-16 budget.
Government tradition: Since the province joined Confederation in 1949, governing parties have enjoyed long terms in office. The shortest term was under the Liberals between 1989 and 2003, for a total of 14 years.