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EDITORIAL: Local trumps national

A voter casts a ballot.
- 123RF Stock Photo

It’s no secret that Islanders traditionally and predominately vote Liberal in federal elections.

This election will likely be no different, but it won’t be as automatic as it has been in the past.

P.E.I. voters this time around clearly have a lot more to think about before they vote on Oct. 21.

Two polls were released a week apart last month with conflicting results. MQO Research found that 40 per cent of Islanders supported the Liberals and 36 per cent supported the Conservatives. A week later, a Narrative Research poll had 40 per cent of Islanders supporting the Conservatives and 35 per cent supporting the Liberals.

Here’s a problem with the polls — one was taken before the federal Ethics Commissioner found that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contravened the Conflict of Interest Act and the second poll was taken when the findings were released.

Both polls also found that Justin Trudeau was the preferred choice for prime minister over Andrew Scheer.

Islanders tend to vote for a party because of their local candidate rather than the party’s leader.

And, it’s fair to question whether anyone here cares about the soap opera playing out in Ottawa over the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Scheer has promised to cancel the carbon tax. But here again, Islanders aren’t feeling the full brunt of the carbon tax in the same way that places like British Columbia are with significantly higher prices at the pumps.

Scheer also can’t avoid the fact that his base is in Western Canada and his politics are considerably more right-of-centre than our provincial Conservatives. That sort of base and ideological bend doesn’t play well on the Island.

Islanders are more likely to be swayed from the Liberals because of a couple of local matters. It was only a year ago that dairy farmers protested the USMCA proposed deal (or new NAFTA) at a funding announcement by Lawrence MacAulay in Pooles Corner. Well, so far only Mexico has ratified the deal. Scheer hasn’t said much about the USMCA, other than that he would have negotiated a better deal. Island dairy farmers still upset with the Liberals may give him the chance to do something different.

Island small business owners were also upset with the Liberals over Bill Morneau’s tax changes. In fact, a packed crowd of small business owners at the Prince Edward Delta let MP Sean Casey know just how ticked off they were with the changes. That was in September 2017, but small business owners and their families are reminded about the changes every time they talk to a financial adviser.

As with any election, it’s the local issues that Islanders care about more than what is happening in Ottawa or Western Canada. Whether that’s enough to topple Liberal support on the Island remains to be seen. It’s unlikely, but the Liberals will find out on Oct. 21 exactly how Island voters feel.

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