Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Preparing for the 2018 Provincial election

With the September election approaching, the New Brunswick Union (NBU) approached University of New Brunswick at Saint John political science professor J.P. Lewis for his take on a few issues.

Below is the second Q and A with Lewis, the first can be found here.

NBU: Besides the usual topics of the economy and jobs, do you see any other issues pushing their way to the forefront similar to the debate surrounding shale gas in 2014?

Lewis: As of July 2018, it does not appear that there will be shale gas type issue, however there are a number of items from the Liberal government’s time in power that could emerge during the campaign such as property taxes, trade, carbon tax and pipelines. What differs from the 2014 campaign is that it would be up to the opposition parties to successfully frame the campaign on any negative issues; in 2014, shale gas was viewed by both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives as a debate to engage in.

NBU: New Brunswick has typically had low voter turnout in recent elections, do you see this changing or the remaining the same?

Lewis: Unless there is a drastic and quick change in the current political climate in New Brunswick – possibly by the emergence of a major political story or galvanizing policy issue - it is difficult to imagine voter turnout increasing this year from 2014’s 65% mark. Turnout is predominantly driven by generational vote trends and unless younger New Brunswickers begin to be motivated to turnout, the replacement rate for older voters will be low, resulting in no change or a decrease in the voter turnout rate.

NBU: Given the situation in Moncton Centre, is this seat in play for one of the other parties besides the Liberals. The party has had a tight grip on the seat under three-term MLA Chris Collins who will not run under the Liberal banner after harassment allegations made against him while he was Speaker of the House?

Lewis: As of July 30th, Collins has not decided whether he is running or not and his presence could shake up the race. If Collins does run, we would imagine the contest would be tighter than the 27% gap in 2014, between the two new candidates from the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. Since the controversy had an impact on the internal politics of the Liberal Party at the riding level there is some uncertainty over how the party and local candidate may overcome these issues.

According to the UNB website, "[Lewis] research interests are in cabinet government and citizenship education, with a focus on Canada. He teaches courses on Canadian government and politics, provincial politics, federalism, elections and political parties and Canadian politics and the media.
He recently co-edited a book with Professor Joanna Everitt on federal conservative parties in Canada. The Blueprint: Conservative parties and their impact on Canadian politics is published by the University of Toronto Press. "