Monday’s CRA Poll, on the popularity of the Dunderdale Government and the three political
Parties, is actually a very significant Poll.  No one really profits from reading a Party’s
standings, this far from an election; even the titillation is brief.  The real value is when a Poll identifies a fundamental
shift in the direction of the public’s political preferences. 

The CRA Poll
contains some potentially big stories on that front.

Liberals’ surprising spike, in popular support, demands particular attention. From
May, 2012 to Feb. 2013, the Liberals were supported, at most, by 22% of those
polled.  Now, this number has jumped to
36%.  THAT’S BIG.  Even the Liberals will wonder, for a while,
if it is an anomaly or whether it is the beginning of a trend, something that
has ‘legs’. 

support for the PCs dropped from 38% to 27%; then, too, NDP support also dropped
2 points, from 39% down to 37%.  This
means that the Liberals picked up all of the support that the Dunderdale
Tories lost, within the past three months, and then some (though the NDP decline
is within the Poll’s margin of error).  How
is the Liberal high-jump explained?

One possibility
is that NDP support has crested, or ‘capped out’; its left wing ideology, a tough
swallow for traditional middle-of-the-road conservatives.  That’s the ‘obvious’ conclusion; but, often, the
obvious is wrong. 

A more
likely prospect is that Tory support, in the rural areas, is collapsing.  Some of you will recall the last MQO Poll
which placed the NDP far ahead of the Tories, in the St. John’s area, and the
Liberals a distant third.  That same Poll
concluded that a three way split was shared among the parties in rural NL. (See slide above).  Until, a competing Pollster, like MQO provides
additional analysis as to the comparative politics of the urban/rural divide, I
believe it a safe bet that rural based Tory support has shifted, and in large numbers,
to its traditional alternative, which is clearly not the NDP.

That said, ‘capping
out’ is, potentially, a serious problem for the NDP; in order to walk the threshold to
power, the Party must continue to grow outside its traditional base of support.  Lorraine Michael’s comment, to the media, that
she plans to maintain the ‘status quo’ was not the most appropriate response on the NDP standings.  Like it or
not, she will have to begin making plans that include policies that seek to connect
with rural voters, knowing that policies contain  risk; still, it may be the only way she can take
her Party to the next level.  Michael ought to know she has
gotten an easy ride, thus far; but, the pathway to power is rarely as smooth as the one discovered by Kathy Dunderdale.   

Bear in
mind, too, that the words Liberal and Progressive Conservative are more about ‘brands’
than about ‘ideologies’; not so, the NDP. 
That Party has only lately learned the pitfalls of being ‘pigeon-holed’,
the National wing of the NDP having recently obliterated the word “socialism”
from its Constitution.   By contrast, the
local Tories have spent like drunken sailors, for the past several years; yet,
they are still not seen as a left of center party. 

That aside,
Lorraine Michael should be very pleased that, on the question of which leader
voters prefer, she stands well above the other two, with 36% versus 21% for
Dunderdale and 24% for Dwight Ball. 

As for Mr.
Ball, the CRA results could not be more timely. 
His ‘interim’ status has gone on far too long; he may use the new
numbers to beat off rivals and bring an end to a Party run by amateurs and other narrow
interests; if I failed to mention Dean McDonald, it is quite by accident.  That Ball has been able to outdo the Premier,
in popularity, ought to put some spring in his step and bring him encouragement to act,
consistently, as a Premier-in-waiting.  Lest
he parses too optimistic a message from the Poll, he should need no reminding that the ‘third’ Party is the one on top.

The Premier’s popularity is another matter.

(completely/mostly combined), for the Dunderdale Government, has dropped from
45% in February to 32% now; down from 60% exactly one year ago.

From the
perspective of a Pollster, the ‘consistency’ found, in this survey, is comforting.
Not so for Ms. Dunderdale.

I am sure the
Premier is concerned.

But, Ms.
Dunderdale possesses an alarming ability to convey the sense that her only
answer is to wait and see if her fortunes will turn around. 

It is odd
that, for this Poll, her Minister of Finance was asked to field questions from
the media. Hopefully, the Premier had not expected him to offer an
inspirational perspective on the Government’s popularity problem. A Minister, less
suitable, could hardly have been selected.

many including this scribe, still look for ‘markers’ that signal whether the
Premier understands both the source and magnitude of her problem, it has yet to
be determined if she even possesses the skills and intuition essential to ‘understanding’
and to ‘connecting’ with her public. It is now clear that this ‘disconnect’ occurred
some time ago, long before she ‘banged up the phone’ on Mr. Nigel Wright of the

Time is now
the one thing the Premier has in excess, though it won’t last. 

another Poll will contain a different outcome and if not that one, the next.

the Premier waits.
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?