The polls for the 2015 general election will tell you the Liberals are only narrowly ahead of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, but recent by-elections have created a different atmosphere.
The Albertan results in particular are surprising. Whilst Harper’s Conservatives survived the biggest up-turn in Liberal support in Alberta in recent history, the NDP weren’t so lucky.
Held by: Conservative Party (since 2004)
2011 result: Conservative 77.48% (first), NDP 10.33% (second), Liberal 3.68% (fourth).
2014 result: Conservative 69.16% (-8.33), NDP 4.22% (-6.11%), Liberal 16.95% (+13.27%).
Held by: Conservative Party (since 2003)
2011 result: Conservative 71.84% (first), NDP 13.24% (second), Liberal 10.42% (third).
2014 result: Conservative 46.71% (-25.13), NDP 11.48% (-1.77), Liberal 35.31% (+24.89).
What is clear in Alberta, particularly in the latter, is Trudeaumania has arrived 40-odd years late in Alberta, with most support being cut from the Conservative pie – but still considerable losses for the NDP. Most critically the NDP now polls third in both ridings.
Held by: Liberal Party (since 1988)
2011 result: Liberal 45.57% (first), Conservative 34.15% (second), NDP 17.99% (third).
2014 result: Liberal 59.38% (+13.99), Conservative 29.27% (-4.91), NDP 8.48% (-9.62).
Held by: NDP – New Democratic Party (since 2006).
2011 result: NDP 54.51% (first), Liberal 23.29% (second), Conservative 16.81% (third).
2014 result: NDP 34.14% (-20.37), Liberal 53.66% (+30.27), Conservative 5.85 (-10.96).
In Ontario, the NDP have lost a seat. Although the Liberals are clearly taking big chunks out of the Conservatives (especially in pro-Tory Alberta), it’s the NDP which are really losing and are fast being replaced as the main party on the left.
These by-elections results do not show a small swing away from the Conservatives and the NDP, but upwards of 30-point swings to team Trudeau.
Mulcair needs to fight for survival. He needs to get his message out to the people – he needs to tell them that he can beat Harper and Trudeau. He needs to run a Layton-style campaign. Enough of the two same old parties; the Liberals and the Conservatives.
If he doesn’t, he risks being wiped-out, and the hard work of the late Layton erased. Losing points everywhere, and being replaced by the Liberals even in English Canadian seats, is no good sign approaching election time. In Canadian politics, you can poll as high as 18% and end up with just 2 seats (re: Canadian general election 1993). That’s doomful news when the NDP are starting to average 19%.
The NDP need to make it clear – they are the party for fair but strong economic development. They are the party in opposition to the TPPA, and they are the party to convert Canada to renewable energy.
Bennett Morgan, Canada 2015.