BACKSTAGE

COMING: a night filled with surprises on June 18

Peter C. Newman June 2 1962
BACKSTAGE

COMING: a night filled with surprises on June 18

Peter C. Newman June 2 1962

COMING: a night filled with surprises on June 18

BACKSTAGE

IN OTTAWA

Peter C. Newman

Perhaps never before, at this advanced stage of a national election campaign, has there been such an air of profound uneasiness in both major political camps. As John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson range the land stumping for votes, they’re encountering a highly volatile electorate whose capricious temperament and changing attitudes have upset many tried political assumptions.

The most important change has been the continuing exodus from rural areas, which has brought half ot Canada's population into fifteen metropolitan areas while the city-dwellers have at the same time been emigrating to their suburbs. Trying to decide the political complexion of these suburbanites, who among them control about seventy seats, has baffled even the most imaginative of Ottawa’s professional analysts. The absorption of two million postwar immigrants, the radical changes within the agricultural industry, the decline in the relative importance of natural resource development, and television’s educational sideel feels among the least sophisticated voters — these arc some of the other unknowns.

In these circumstances, any prediction of the outcome is risky indeed. But by mid-May. Ottawa strategists of both major parties thought they coidd at least spot the trends that by June 18 might provide them with the required push to victory. Here is a provincebv-province rundown on how these men read the campaign to date:

NEWFOUNDLAND

The Liberals say in public that they hope to take all seven seats; in private, they admit they'd be happy to win six for a gain of one. lories insist they can hold the two they have now. and they’re trying hard for a third. Humber-St. George.

I’RINCE EDWARD ISLAND

The Conservatives are confident that the $ 105million causeway which Diefenbaker announced on the second-last day of parliament will serve to keep the province’s four seats in their camp, but the Liberals maintain that with any luck they can get at least one rural seat, and they hope to win both. They’re most confident in Prince, where their candidate is George MacKay, a former provincial minister of highways.

NOVA SCOTIA

The Liberals are claiming up to five ridings in this province which in the last election gave all of its dozen seats to the Tories. The best Liberal bets: Antigonish-Guysborough, where the Liberal candidate is Dr. John Stewart, a St. Francis Xavier University historian who gave up a chance to become provincial leader to run; Cumberland, where Keith Russell, the former head of CBC farm broadcasts, has been campaigning since last fall; Inverness-Riehmond, where

Allan MacF.achen, until recently research director for Lester Pearson, is running; Shelburne-Yarmouth. and one of the Halifax scats. Both the Tories and Liberals expect that Cape Breton South may go to the NDP’s Malcolm "Vic” Maclnnis, a St. Francis Xavier University sociologist who conducts an educational program on the Sydney TV station. The Conservatives believe they can come out of Nova Scotia with nine scats.

NEW BRUNSWICK

Some Tories admit that of their seven seats they may lose three ( Restigouche-Madawaska. Westmorland and Charlotte) while the Liberals fully expect to add them to the three they already hold.

QUEBEC

With the pledge of all-out support from Premier Jean Lesage, the federal Liberals are giving themselves 65 seats—more than two-and-a-half times their current contingent of 25. The Conservatives admit they’ll suffer some losses, but believe the casualty list will on no account exceed half of their present membership of 49. The major unknown factor in Quebec federal politics is Social Credit, under Real Caouette, a platform firebrand who has made an impact in many rural ridings. Both the old-line parties concede that Caouette will probably win Villeneuve riding in northern Quebec; carrying at least two Social Crediters with him—probably from Bellechasse, where Secretary of State Noel Dorion is in serious trouble, and one of the Quebec City constituencies.

ONTARIO

In this decisive province, the Tories are determined not to give up more than a dozen of their 63 seats, while the Liberals insist they can increase their current total of 16 to at least 35. Here, in alphabetical order, are the seats the Liberals hope to add: Brantford, Brant-Haldimand, Davenport, Durham, Elgin, Essex West. Glengarry-Prescott, Hastings South, Kingston, Lambton West. Norfolk. Northumberland, Parkdale, Prince Edward-Lennox. Renfrew South, Stormont, Temiskaming and York North. Many Liberals continue to be optimistic that Mitchell Sharp can unseat Finance Minister Donald Fleming in TorontoEglinton. Strategists of the NDP insist that they’ll add at least three Toronto seats (Greenwood, York Centre and York South) to their present Ontario contingent of four.

MANITOBA

Although much will depend on the extent of Premier Duff Roblin’s involvement in the campaign, the Tories don’t expect to repeat their 1958 sweep of the province’s fourteen seats. The Liberals claim they’ve got an excellent chance of winning St. Boniface, Marquette, Winnipeg South, and Churchill, with a fighting

chance in Provencher and Portage-Neepawa. The NDP is sure it has at least three Manitoba winners: Fred Zaplitny in Dauphin, Stanley Knowles in Winnipeg North Centre, and David Orlikow in Winnipeg North. The Conservatives predict they’ll not have to give up more than five seats.

SASKATCHEWAN

The most interesting fight will be former NDP House Leader Hazen Argue’s attempt to hold Assiniboia garbed in his new Liberal vestments. Unless an independent Liberal is nominated to split the vote. Argue will probably make it. Other seats that look possible to the Liberals include Meadow Lake, Melville. and Moose Mountain. The NDP is confident that Tommy Douglas can take Regina-City, and hopes also that Lome Diet rick can win back Rosetown-Biggar, M. .1. Coldwell’s old seat. The Tories insist they can hold thirteen of their sixteen seats.

ALBERTA

This Conservative stronghold of 17 seats in the 1958 election will almost certainly be broken both by Social Credit and Liberal victories. The Socreds arc given their best chance in Red Deer (where National Leader Robert Thompson is running), Medicine Hat, Vegrcvillc, Lethbridge and MacLeod. The Liberals talk about as many as seven ridings, but concentrate their hopes on Edmonton West. Athabasca and Calgary South. The Conservatives think they’ll come out of Alberta with at least a dozen seats.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

This could be the province where the Diefenbaker government will suffer its most grievous wounds. The NDP expects to add at least Colin Cameron (Nanaimo) and Barry Mather (New Westminster) to its contingent of four MP’s. The Liberals look for as many as seven seats, including economist Dr. John Davis running in Coast-Capilano; lawyer-industrialist John Nicholson in Vancouver-Centre; former provincial leader Arthur Laing in Vancouver South; Lawyer Foster Isherwood in Victoria; ex-RCN captain David Groos in Esquimalt-Saanich; former MLA Bill Moore in Comox-Alberni, and former MP unionist James Byrne in Kootenay Flast. The Tories hope to save half their eighteen seats.

In summary, the trend plotters of the two major parties are each allocating themselves a minimum of 138 seats—just enough for a working majority; giving the NDP 19 seats and Social Credit eight. The main trouble with this calculation is that it exceeds by 38 the total number of actual seats in the House of Commons. Someone is going to be disappointed. “I’ve done a survey of every constituency in Canada,” says one of the best political strategists in Ottawa, “and the only thing I’m absolutely certain about is that election night is going to be ftdl of surprises.” ^