It looks like my prediction PCs would win most seats was right and I was correct they had momentum, but I only predicted a minority when in fact they won a majority. In terms of what impact this will have federally, I think one needs to be careful not to read too much as mentioned below but there are still a few things we can learn from this. For starters, its been over 35 years since we have had 8 of 10 provinces led by small c conservative governments and likewise last time Liberals only governed one province was 2002, which ironically is the same one they govern now, Newfoundland & Labrador. Still I don’t think that necessarily means O’Toole will be next prime-minister but this does show us a few things as listed below.
- Campaigns matter: Staring a campaign with a strong lead is nice, but doesn’t guarantee you win. With federal Liberals only having a 5 point lead, they would be silly to assume they have the election in the bag.
- Pandemic no longer favours incumbents: Election results in BC, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan suggested being an incumbent during pandemic was an advantage but 2021 has shown things are changing. Yes Liberals in Newfoundland were re-elected, but started campaign with 40 point lead, ended up only winning by 9 points. While few pay attention this, Yukon Liberals back in April lost their majority and the popular vote and barely hung on, so those were first signs things changing. Now we’ve seen our first government get defeated since pandemic started.
- Red Toryism sells well. Fact UCP is trailing by 10 points in most conservative province while Legault and King are super popular in their respective provinces where Tories federally struggle suggest to me which direction Tories need to go. Moderate conservatism can win anywhere in Canada. More ideological conservatism is a vote loser everywhere, even in provinces where it sold 20 years ago like Alberta. O’Toole gets this, but does rest of party?
So I think both main parties should take lessons from this. Trudeau needs to be more humble and less arrogant. He can and likely will win on September 20th, but he has to earn voter’s trust; it won’t be handed to him on a silver platter. Tories also can win too (although probably only a minority) but need a forward pragmatic positive looking platform and stay away from the divisive ideological stuff. As for how Nova Scotia will vote federally? I still think it will go largely Liberal as Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative are like the old PCs pre-merger, not present day Conservatives so I think there will be enough Nova Scotia PC voters who crossover to ensure Liberals hold most or all seats there. But its not an ironclad guarantee. I wonder if O’Toole’s promise to increase health care spending by 6% was based on this as this might be something worth emphasizing as PCs in Nova Scotia won in big part for their emphasis on fixing the broken health care system. At same time looking at riding breakdown, it appears PCs did really well in rural areas where health care is a major issue, but struggled in the Halifax area where affordability was more of one. And with Nova Scotia being a lot more rural than most provinces, what works there won’t necessarily have same impact in more urbanized provinces like BC and Ontario.