The House

Battleground Watch - Newfoundland and Labrador

Every week throughout the summer, CBC poll analyst Eric Grenier will take a look at a key federal election battleground. First up: Newfoundland and Labrador.
Since Danny Williams' 2008 "Anything But Conservative" campaign, the federal Conservative Party has struggled -- and failed -- to hold onto any ridings in Newfoundland and Labrador. What do their chances look like in 2015? Poll analyst Eric Grenier joins The House to break down the numbers. (Katharine Starr, CBC)

If a guy with the last name Crosbie can't run for the Conservatives in Newfoundland and Labrador, who can?

That's the question The House asks Conservative legend John Crosbie, whose son Ches was just rejected by the Conservative Party as a federal candidate for the hot-spot riding of Avalon. 

Crosbie, who served as a cabinet minister in the Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney governments and was Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, doesn't understand why his son, a prominent local lawyer, was turned down. 

"It's certainly affected me and how I view the party I've been working for and serving," he said. "The Conservative Party has lost Ches as a possible MP and he would have been excellent. I think it's damaging to the party."

With Ches' dismissal, Avalon is left without a Conservative nominee. It's a move that's left political watchers puzzled as to the party's strategy in a province that has been "Anything But Conservative" since then-premier Danny Williams launched a campaign against the CPC in 2008.

Avalon could have been ripe for the picking by a strong Conservative candidate this go-around, and poll analyst Éric Grenier tells The House that current support for the Conservatives in the province — pegged at a dismal 15 per cent according to a new Abacus Data poll — means the riding needs all the help it can get. 

"There's not a lot of chances for the Conservatives so even in a riding like Avalon, that would have been their best chance but they really would have to see their numbers improve a lot in order for that riding to move over to them," Grenier says.

In fact, Newfoundland and Labrador is looking like one of the last Liberal strongholds in the country, holding a commanding 38-point lead over the Conservatives and a steady 25-point lead over the NDP. 

"Most of the ridings are going to be won by the Liberals pretty comfortably," Grenier predicts, although he adds there is "no chance" NDP MP Jack Harris will lose the St. John's East seat he has held since 2008. 

The real wild cards to watch are the ridings of Avalon and St. John's South-Mount Pearl, says Grenier. 

"It all comes down to (the two ridings)," he says. "It's hard to say exactly what could happen. In Avalon, (former Liberal) Scott Andrews is maybe mulling a run as an independent. That could throw a bit of a wrench into the works."

"In St. John's South-Mount Pearl, that will be a battle between the NDP incumbent Ryan Cleary and the Liberal candidate Seamus O'Regan, who is of course well-known from his time at the CTV morning show."

Haven't got enough numbers? Éric Grenier joins The House over the summer for a deep dive into the polls and the data surrounding various battleground ridings across Canada.