Holidays shorten what is likely the last byelection campaign before the 2019 general election
If you’re living in the Topsail-Paradise district and you’re wondering why no potential politician has knocked on your door yet, you’re not alone.
Despite Premier Dwight Ball dropping the writ on Dec. 19, not a single door has been knocked on or campaign sign posted in the district to date — out of respect for people enjoying the holiday season.
Since 1972, no byelection campaign has taken place over the holiday season. The closest came in January 2001, when election day was Jan. 30. In that case, the writ was dropped on Jan. 8.
Jim Reid, campaign consultant for Progressive Conservative candidate Paul Dinn, says the decision to hold off on campaigning during the holiday season was very much on purpose for the Tories.
“Our team has agreed by consensus that it is in the best interest of all not to call on voters by campaign rally, telephone, door canvassing, or signage placement during the holidays,” Reid wrote in an email.
Whether by coincidence or not, it’s the same decision made by all three parties heading into the Jan. 24 byelection.
Essentially, each campaign has missed out on two weeks of campaign time and will have just 22 days to get voters on their side before election day.
New Democratic Party president Lynn Moore suspects a strategy may have contributed to the timing of the byelection call.
“We didn’t think that people would be interested in having people knocking on their door during Christmas,” Moore said.
“If I was a Liberal premier I’d want to start a byelection in the middle of Christmas, too. I think that was strategic on their part.”
Moore is not part of the NDP byelection committee that is crafting the election strategy for candidate Kathleen Burt.
Steve Tessier, campaign manager for Liberal candidate Patricia Hynes-Coates, says he expects voters in the area to make up their mind pretty quickly, so he’s not worried about a shortened campaign.
“We’ve got a pretty well-organized machine going. We’ve gone through a lot of byelections and elections, so we’re fairly well-experienced,” Tessier said.
“I think people are going to make their decision fairly quick and they’re going to either stick with the governing Liberals or give the Tories a chance to stay in that seat.”
The PCs plan to hit the doorsteps on Jan. 2, while the Liberals and NDP are likely to wait for the weekend to get things fully up and rolling.
Each campaign has been working on the infrastructure so far. The Hynes-Coates campaign headquarters are located at 1046 Topsail Rd., while the Dinn campaign is setting up shop at 1676 Topsail Rd. The NDP has yet to set up a formal headquarters in the district.
The district was created ahead of the 2015 general election, with former premier Paul Davis the only member of the House of Assembly for the district to date. The district was created as an amalgamation of areas within the Conception Bay South and Conception Bay East-Bell Island districts, both Tory districts currently.
Voters have been given less time than in other campaigns to make up their mind in what is likely the last byelection campaign before the 2019 general election.