Power & Politics

Provincial elections offer lessons and opportunities for federal parties, say former premiers

Three former premiers say federal parties should take note of the mood of the electorate after voters chose conservative parties in a string of recent provincial elections.

Alison Redford, Robert Ghiz and Brian Gallant weigh in on the P.E.I. and Alberta elections

From left to right, P.E.I. PC Leader Dennis King celebrates his election victory, UCP Leader Jason Kenney speaks to supporters after winning Alberta's election. (Canadian Press)

Three former premiers say federal parties should take note of the mood of the electorate after voters chose conservative parties in a string of recent provincial elections.

"I think that being aware that the electorate is extremely volatile will be very important," said former P.E.I. premier Robert Ghiz, in an interview with CBC News Network's Power & Politics. 

The recent election in Ghiz's province brought an end to 12 years of Liberal rule and saw the Progressive Conservatives win the most seats — 12 — to form a minority government, followed by the Green Party, which secured eight seats to become the official opposition.

Ghiz said voters are no longer just moving their support between the Liberals and Conservatives. "Today, the Green Party is an option. We see a right-wing party in New Brunswick that is an option. So, if I was the federal Liberals I would be watching to see where that Green vote's going."

Former New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant said voters are increasingly turning to less traditional parties. Gallant's Liberals lost to the Progressive Conservatives in last fall's election, in a vote that saw the Green Party go from one seat to three and the People's Alliance win seats for the first time.

"There doesn't seem to be the binary choice happening that we would have seen before. People are saying to themselves: 'it's not really just about who gets to be the prime minister or the premier, it's also about who's my MLA and what message am I sending by sending whoever it is that I'll be sending to our capital,'" he said.

Former Alberta premier Alison Redford pointed to the recent Alberta election campaign and some of premier-designate Jason Kenney's promises as a sign that regional divides and the power of the provinces could play a key role in federal politics.

"Premier Kenney's first piece of legislation, which he promises will be to revoke the carbon tax and the federal government's response to that, which is that they will then constitutionally impose a carbon tax, I think that really does then become an issue that will become part of the national debate," she said.   

"For the first time this generation of Canadians who are voting are going to be back into seeing sort of a polarization between regions and also constitutional issues coming up again, which is new and different than what we've seen for some time," she said.

Watch the full Premiers' League segment here: 

Former premiers Alison Redford, Brian Gallant and Robert Ghiz discuss the P.E.I. and Alberta elections and what lessons they offer federal parties. 18:50

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Corrections

  • A previous version of this story stated the New Brunswick Greens won seats for the first time in the 2018 provincial election. The first Green seat was actually won in 2014.
    Apr 29, 2019 9:05 AM ET