Nfld. & Labrador

Federal election 2019: Provinces, premiers and their demands dominating the conversation

Pitting premiers against each other, avoiding key issues, and frustrated voters: Just a few of the things Stephen Tomblin sees heading into this election.

Stephen Tomblin breaks down the big things he expects from the upcoming election

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball, left, meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 10, 2018. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

As the days of summer burn out one by one, the much-dreaded return to autumn is on its way.

That means two things many Canadians dread — the coming of a new school year, and a federal election.

With the sun occasionally shining and an election around the corner, politicians are beginning to show their faces more and more in communities around Newfoundland and Labrador.

In anticipation of the campaign, CBC News spoke with retired Memorial University political science professor Stephen Tomblin about his predictions and asked his opinions on the biggest issues this time around.

Provinces fighting for themselves

Throughout the conversation, one thing came up continuously: Premiers are out for their people and their regions, even when it means sticking it to another province (or the rest of the country) in the process.

"The agenda is about what does Quebec want? What does Newfoundland and Labrador want? Not what is good for Canada," he said.

Canada's premiers listen as Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe addresses them during a meeting in Saskatoon on July 10. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

During the Council of the Federation meetings this month in Saskatchewan, premiers all made pitches for what they want. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball made it clear he wants national pharmacare and an energy corridor through New Brunswick. Alberta and Saskatchewan were out for pipelines.

But Tomblin said nobody was out for unity, and that's a problem in a vast country of 37 million people.

Anger and division

When asked if he thought it could contribute to the same kind of politics we've seen in the United States, Tomblin said it's already here.

"There's an underlying frustration, I mean, not only in Canada but I think in Europe and North America generally, that people feel disconnected," he said. "That's why there's so much anger, so much volatility, and so much unpredictability in terms of how this is going to unfold."

The premiers break away following a group photo at the premiers' conference in Saskatoon on July 11. (Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

While conversations are dominated by Quebec versus Newfoundland and Labrador, or Alberta versus the East, Tomblin said real problems are going unaddressed.

Tough problems, too, like reforming health care to take a more preventive approach, or coming up with electoral reform.

"I think that's why there's so much frustration among the general population, because the territorial approach to problem definition and resolution doesn't make any sense."

Hurdles for the Liberals in Atlantic Canada?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has watched Canada go from riding a red wave to mixing in a splash of blue in recent provincial elections.

In Atlantic Canada, where federal and provincial Liberals dominated in 2015, two of the four provinces have since elected Progressive Conservatives.

Now there's a sense of, 'Does it matter?'- Stephen Tomblin

Tomblin said he's wary of reading too much into that, since provincial parties can differ greatly from, or in the case of the former Danny Williams government, openly feud with their federal counterparts.

"They're basically operating in very different games and they're playing for very different audiences," he said.

Broken Liberal promises

One of the biggest issues facing the Trudeau government in the entire country is a sense of disappointment, Tomblin said.

During the 2015 election, Tomblin said people already had a "Harper hangover," and were in the mood for something different. Along came a young leader who seemed to offer something that was wanted Canada-wide — hope.

Trudeau adjusts his tie before media enters Ball's office at Confederation Building in St. John's in February. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

But since then, Tomblin said, his track record hasn't lived up to the hype, especially on issues like climate change and reconciling with First Nations.

"We raised all these expectations, and again, the result was not the result that many people were predicting," he said. "We're back to the old days, for the most part.… Now there's a sense of, 'Does it matter?'"

Who are the candidates in N.L.?

The election won't take place until October, but so far the Liberals are the only party with a full slate of candidates in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Despite some question about his status within the party, longtime MP Scott Simms was the last Liberal to have his nomination confirmed.

The Green Party has the second-most candidates in place, with four of the seven ridings already covered.

The Conservatives are next with three confirmed candidates, and the NDP are last with only former St. John's East MP Jack Harris confirmed so far.

A full list is below:



Liberal: Ken McDonald 

New Democrat:

Green: Greg Malone


Conservative: Mike Windsor 

Liberal: Churence Rogers 

New Democrat:

Green: Kelsey Reichel

Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame

Conservative: Alex Bracci

Liberal: Scott Simms

New Democrat:

Green: Byron White 



L: Yvonne Jones

New Democrat:


Long Range Mountains


L: Gudie Hutchings

New Democrat:

Green: Lucas Knill

St. John's East


Liberal: Nicholas Whalen

New Democrat: Jack Harris


St. John's South-Mount Pearl 

Conservative: Terry Martin 

Liberal: Seamus O`Regan

New Democrat:


With files from Katie Breen


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