In both Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, the governing parties enjoy a huge majority of seats in their respective legislatures. Both parties have healthy leads in the polls and both are expected to be re-elected in landslides. But while Robert Ghiz of the Liberals has little to worry about in October’s election in PEI, a change in leadership of the two main parties in Newfoundland and Labrador could shake things up. The governing Tories will be campaigning under rookie Premier Kathy Dunderdale, who took over from Danny Williams last year, while the opposition Liberals will be running for election under new leader, Kevin Aylward, given the job earlier this week.
Here are some of the interesting ridings to watch in these upcoming Atlantic Canadian elections:
Bay of Islands (Nfld.): Terry Loder, who will be running for the first time as the incumbent, won this riding for the Tories with 52 per cent of the vote to the Liberals’ 46 per cent. It could be another close contest, as this seat had been held by the Liberals from 1989 to 2007.
Burin-Placentia West (Nfld.): This was one of the best ridings for the NDP in 2007, and Julie Mitchell will be carrying the orange banner once again. Clyde Jackman of the Progressive Conservatives won with 59 per cent of the vote to Mitchell’s 32 per cent last time, but if the NDP surges in the province this seat could fall to them.
Georgetown-St. Peters (PEI): Without a Tory incumbent, this could be a pick-up for the Liberals in their quest to sweep the island. Kevin Gotell will be running for the Liberals, while Steven Myers is the Tory candidate.
Labrador West (Nfld.): The Progressive Conservatives took 51 per cent of the vote in this riding in 2007, nine points ahead of the NDP. But the Tory incumbent, Jim Baker, will not be running again, opening up the riding to the NDP, which has held the riding in the past.
Montague-Kilmuir (PEI): Another Tory seat without an incumbent, the PCs only won this riding with 52 per cent of the vote to the Liberals’ 48 per cent in 2007. Allan Roach, a former RCMP officer, will try to win this seat for Premier Ghiz.
Morell-Mermaid (PEI): Olive Crane, leader of the PEI Tories, is the only PC MLA running for re-election this fall. She could be the only survivor of a Liberal sweep. Dan MacDonald, the Liberal candidate, will try his hand at making it a perfect 27-for-27 for the Liberals. But with a 15-point gap in 2007 between his party and the Tories in 2007, he faces an uphill battle.
Port de Grave (Nfld.): This was a close race in 2007, and with Liberal MHA Roland Butler not running for re-election this could be a PC gain. However, the Liberals have held the riding since 1985.
St. George's-Stephenville East (Nfld.): Newly minted Liberal Leader, Kevin Aylward, will go head-to-head against Conservative Education Minister Joan Burke. Aylward is a former provincial cabinet minister who had been working in the private sector since leaving politics in 2003.
The Isles of Notre Dame (Nfld.): This riding was decided by only seven votes in 2007. Derrick Dalley, Minister of Business in Kathy Dunderdale’s cabinet, has the advantage of being the incumbent in what could be another close race.
The Straits-White Bay North (Nfld.): Veteran MHA Trevor Taylor easily won the riding for the PCs in 2007 with 63 per cent of the vote, but it flipped to the Liberals in a close by-election in October 2009. Marshall Dean will try to repeat his success in this fall’s general election and hold the seat for the Liberals.
With a file from CP