The historic results of recent provincial elections in Quebec and New Brunswick are a sign that voters are embracing change, according to one political scientist.
Dalhousie University professor Lori Turnbull says the results in Quebec are interesting and will likely be good news for someone like Maxime Bernier, but she cautions it’s not likely that politics as we know it are forever changed.
“That might not last,” she said. “Sometimes at the provincial level we see that kind of experimentation with a government where we give something a shot once, and you might not see a return. I’m not saying that that’s definitely going to happen, I’m saying that this is Day 1 and so let’s not jump the gun yet.”
Quebec voters handed the incumbent Liberals a large loss, with the party earning the lowest percentage of the popular vote in any election. The incoming Coalition Avenir Quebec government is right-leaning, and its pledges to lower Quebec’s annual immigration levels, for example, may clash with the federal government.
It’s part of a trend across the country as B.C., Ontario, and Quebec have all pushed out provincial Liberal governments in the last 18 months. New Brunswick’s Liberals are left in the position of trying to form a minority government with fewer seats than the PCs, after voters chose three People’s Alliance and three Green Party MLAs on Sept. 24.
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Turnbull says that sets up an “opposition dynamic” to federal-provincial politics that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not yet seen while in office.
“Considering that a lot of what the federal government wants to do treads into provincial jurisdiction, because they have a social agenda that involves a lot of things that are actually constitutionally given to the provinces, it could affect how the Trudeau Liberals get through their mandate and a subsequent mandate if he wins again in 2019.”
Still, Turnbull says the federal Liberals aren’t likely to be overly worried about their own fortunes in the 2019 federal election.
“Voters tend to like one party federally, and a different party provincially,” she said.
“When a lot of these provincial governments that are Liberal were elected, Justin Trudeau was at the height of his popularity. He was a fresh new leader, it was Trudeaumania 2.0, kind of thing. And a lot of provincial leaders benefited from that wave, from that rush.”
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For now she says Trudeau’s big job is going to be to selling the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement to voters in time for the 2019 election.