Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fracking an issue as Liberals win majority in New Brunswick election

Brian Gallant, the leader of the New Brunswick Liberal party, won a majority in the eastern province triumphing over the incumbent Progressive Conservatives of David Alward.

During the count, the lead changed several times but in the end the Liberals held 27 seats with only 21 for the Progressive Conservatives(PC) with the Green Party winning one seat. Detailed results for each constituency can be found here.The vote was marred by problems with voting machines: Before the results were declared, however, the tabulations of ballots were suspended late Monday for almost two hours due to concerns about technical issues with memory cards and discrepancies with the vote-counting machines. The issue led the Tories to call for the ballots to be counted by hand, but the Liberals demanded that Elections New Brunswick be left alone to determine the result. Because of the ballot-counting problems the PC leader had not conceded defeat.
There were eight female members elected in the 49 constituencies. Nine cabinet ministers in the ousted PC government went down to defeat. However, five seats were won by less than 100 votes. In the Saint John East riding Liberal Gary Keating won over the incumbent PC member Glen Savoie by a mere eight votes.The leader of the People's Alliance Kris Austin lost to the PC incumbent Pam Lynch in Fredericton-Grand Lake by only 26 votes. The party won just over 2 percent of the vote province-wide.
 In terms of vote percentage Liberals had 42.7 percent, PC's 34.6, New Democratic Party(NDP) 13 percent, Green Party 6.6 percent and People's Alliance 2.1. The NDP failed to gain a seat in the legislature and the leader Dominic Cardy resigned even though the NDP vote actually increased by several percentage points from the previous election. The Green Party, with half the number of votes as the NDP, nevertheless made history by electing David Coon, a well-known environmentalist, in Fredericton South. Coon is the first ever Green MLA in New Brunswick and only the second to be elected to a provincial legislature in Canada. There is one Green member of the federal parliament, Elizabeth May.
 In spite of the vote tally issues, the New Brunswick chief electoral official said that results of the election on the government website are accurate. The official results will not be announced for four days after results have been reviewed. Tom Bateman, a St. Thomas University political scientist said: “If you cannot trust that the technology has indicated exactly how New Brunswickers wanted their vote expressed, how do you say to the people of New Brunswick this is an election and these are the results you can have faith in?”
Among one of the important issues in the campaign was fracking. The Liberal leader Brian Gallant promised a moratorium on fracking "until risks to the environment, health and water are fully understood". On the other side, the PC leader David Alward promoted shale gas development as a prominent part of his campaign arguing that such development would create jobs and keep skilled workers in the province rather than heading off to Alberta.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

John Tory well ahead in Toronto mayoralty race but Rob Ford is second

John Tory, a former leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario, is far in the lead for mayor of the city of Toronto. However scandal-ridden Rob Ford the present mayor is in second, and Olivia Chow of the New Democratic Party is in third.

The latest Forum Research Poll has Tory with 40 percent support, to 28 percent for Ford and just 21 percent for Olivia Chow. Chow has seen her support dwindle in Scarborough in the east end of Toronto from 31 percent in July to nine percent at present lower than the approximately 13 per cent for Ford. The CEO of Forum Research Lorne Bozinoff said of Olivia Chow: “Her support really has been declining over the last two months, and she’s hit a new low now … she’s one of the candidates that wants to replace the Scarborough subway with an LRT, and that’s really costing her support. Not surprisingly, almost all the Chow vote would go to John Tory. None of it really would go to Rob Ford." Chow also is in favor of improving bus services. Chow has now started to call herself the underdog in the race as she lags behind even the disgraced mayor Rob Ford. 
 Candidate David Soknacki is withdrawing from the race and has six percent of the vote according to Bozinoff. Three per cent of that vote is expected to go to Chow with two percent to Ford and just one percent to Tory. This will still leave Tory well in the lead. He is leading in every area of the city. The Forum poll was of 1,060 residents using an automated system of interactive voice response phone calls and has a margin of error of three percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.  
Another poll by Nanos Research earlier also showed Tory well in the lead. The poll surveyed 1,000 residents between August 27 to 31. Pollsters asked participants simply who they would vote for if the election were held today. Tory received 42 percent support, Ford 28 per cent and Olivia Chow 26 per cent. David Soknacki who is now withdrawing had three percent. The vote is to be held October 27, so there is still time for the figures to change. Tory is seen by many as the obvious choice to keep out Ford and this may be hurting Chow. Both Tory and Chow are trying to woo Liberal voters. However, the NDP irritated the Liberals by precipitating a provincial election that the Liberals won. The election could have been avoided if the NDP had supported the Liberal budget. The budget had a number of progressive features that many labor groups supported causing some friction within the New Democratic Party. 
 Just recently Rob Ford was found to have an abdominal tumor. Tests will be needed to see if the tumor is malignant. There is no indication as yet that he intends to withdraw from the race.