Too close to call

Dave Bartlett
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Seven ridings, 30 candidates, four parties, two independents

With one week to go before the federal election, a political science professor at Memorial University says a lot can still happen and the race is still too close to call.

Amanda Bittner spoke to The Telegram Thursday before the Easter long weekend.

“Things are kind of somewhat variable,” she said. “We still have about 10 days left in the race so a lot can happen. So, I’m not willing to make any predictions at this point.”

Bittner says it will be interesting to see what the results on May 2 will be.

“Anything is possible. We’ve seen past elections where the last couple weeks of the campaign, as we get closer and closer to election day that a lot does change and the votes do move,” she added. “It’s very exciting.”

While Bittner doesn’t see a massive upset, she said a Harper majority or a Liberal minority are both possible, as is a return to a Conservative minority.

A lot will be determined, she said, by how voters in Ontario and Western Canada cast their ballots, as there are so many seats in those regions.

But Bittner doesn’t think there will be a whole lot of change in Quebec, despite polls late last week which showed NDP Leader Jack Layton surpassing the

Bloc Quebecois’ Gilles Duceppe in popularity.

“How that’s going to translates into (the number of) seats, I don’t know,” she said, noting there’s always a flux in the numbers throughout a campaign.

The federal election was triggered by an historic non-confidence vote in the House of Commons on March 25 after the Conservatives were found in contempt of Parliament.

But that fact has been largely lost as each party has tried to spin the reason for the election to their own benefit.

Contempt, non-confidence vote not well understood

The Conservatives have blamed the party’s fall on a lack of support for its budget, for example.

Bittner agrees the parliamentary procedure aspects of how the government fell hasn’t captured most Canadians imagination.

“I don’t think the nature of that non-confidence motion was a particularly sexy topic, or that most people understood the nature of it,” she said.

Locally, Bittner said a poll released last week by NTV and Telelink, which shows close races in Avalon and St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, may not give an accurate picture.

The margin of error in the poll was 4.5 per cent, meaning the gap in St. John’s South Mount Pearl is still a three-way race between Liberal incumbent Siobhan Coady, the NDP’s Ryan Cleary and Conservative Loyola Sullivan.

Although the poll showed St. John’s East NDP incumbent Jack Harris with a commanding lead, Bittner said that could keep voters home on election day if they feel the outcome is predetermined, possibly hurting Harris.

Another factor, in all three races covered by the poll, is that about a third of voters are undecided.

But figures from the poll also show all three incumbents have favourable approval ratings.

Organizations: Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois, House of Commons Telelink NDP

Geographic location: Ontario, Western Canada, Quebec Avalon

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Recent comments

  • Brian
    April 26, 2011 - 10:22

    Vote for Jack, we have had years of the old parties and their cronnies, by the way remember when the PC's and reform parties merged. One of our PC MP's Mr. Hearn fully supported such a merger and what great things it would bring. Look at the last job he was appointed to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anon
    April 25, 2011 - 22:35

    "The federal election was triggered by an historic non-confidence vote in the House of Commons on March 25 after the Conservatives were found in contempt of Parliament." -This needs to be added to the script of the conservative calling centers that keep asking me to vote for Harper. Because they keep telling me some gibberish about coalitions and a budget vote that to my knowledge hadn't yet taken place.

  • Steve
    April 25, 2011 - 16:49

    Anyone who votes for the Cons and Harpo is a fool, end of story.

  • mom
    April 25, 2011 - 15:49

    I have to agree with mainlander. I used to vote PC, but I will never vote for the current conservative party because of the huge differences in policy between them and the former PC party. Even though the PC party was conservative it was not at the detriment of the poor and middle class of society. It was a progressive party that looked to the future of our nation. It was not consumed by what it could do for big business.

  • mainlander
    April 25, 2011 - 08:52

    Who can former supporters of the federal Progressive Conservative Party vote for? Our party no longer exists and it has been replaced by a very regressive right wing party. A lot of people do not realize this is not the same party we used to vote for. The people who tend to support this new party are the ones who will be hurt most by their anti-women, anti-immigrant, pro-big business policies. Just wait until they get their majority and the Great Leader starts making cuts. Maybe then people will see him for what he is - but we'll be stuck with 5 years of him. Read all the platforms before you vote - don't just instinctively mark your X for one party because you like the leader or dislike another leader. The 3 parties are all VERY different - know what you are voting for before you vote.