Leader Redmond savvy enough to know numbers that matter come on election day
Mike Redmond has good reason to be cautious despite the glowing results of the latest CRA poll released last week. The leader of the NDP party on P.E.I., although still relatively new to the job, has been around politics long enough to know how fickle polls can be. Based on recent election results in British Columbia and Alberta, where pollsters were completely off base, Mr. Redmond will hold off on the celebrations. Those polls called for an easy NDP win in B.C., where instead the Liberals held on to a slim majority government. In Alberta, the polls suggested a Wild Rose romp, but instead the Conservatives rolled to another easy win. In Quebec, the polls predicted the decimation of the provincial Liberals under Jean Charest but the Parti Quebecois eked out the slimmest of minority governments, just ahead of the Liberals.
Still, Mr. Redmond must be pleased that his endless hours of knocking on doors and listening to Islanders across the province is paying dividends. Gaining one-third of decided support puts the NDP into levels never before seen for the party on P.E.I. The CRA poll saw the Liberals drop 10 points to 42 per cent, the NDP surge 11 points to 32 and the PCs holding steady around 23.
There are some obvious reasons of course. The Progressive Conservatives still haven’t fully recovered from the bloodletting in dumping leader Olive Crane last fall and Steven Myers has the top job only on an interim basis. Once a convention is called and a new leader elected, the fortunes of the party are sure to rebound.
The Liberals have been in power for seven years and are starting to build up some baggage after a tough year of unpopular decision-making such as the HST, rural hospital changes, Plan B construction and fish kills.
The poll results do reflect the hard work by the NDP in formulating policy and explaining its stand on issues. The party is positioning itself as a viable alternative to the older parties. In Nova Scotia, the NDP were a third place party for years until voters finally got fed up with both the Conservatives and Liberals. Darrell Dexter led the NDP to a stunning majority five years ago and likely will win again in the upcoming early fall election. Mr. Redmond believes the same could happen here, perhaps as early as the next election in two years time. But he knows how fickle polls can be and that now he could be the target of attacks after having a free ride and being ignored by the Liberals and PCs for the past year.
Union contract buys labour peace
The provincial government has negotiated labour peace until after the next election in a new contract with its public sector employees. The five-year deal is almost unprecedented, both for government and the Union of Public Sector Employees. The contract calls for wage increases of 9.5 per cent over the five years and a guarantee of no layoffs from April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2016.
The union has to be ecstatic with the deal, which passed with an almost 80 per cent approval vote. It’s no surprise the union broke with tradition and jumped at a five-year contract. It’s a very good deal for the union and a very bad one for government and the taxpayers of P.E.I.
The province, already facing a massive deficit, has boxed itself deep into a fiscal corner with no room to manoeuvre except by going deeper into debt. Finance Minister Wes Sheridan has already pushed back his prediction of balancing the budget by a year and he can add another one onto that prediction with this generous contract in the union’s favour.