Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ground game

I don't pretend to have any major insights into the race in Iqaluit West. Pardon the Iqaluit-centric egotism, but it does feel like a race that a lot of people in Nunavut are watching. Hell, even outside of Nunavut. This is obviously due to Premier Paul Okalik running and Iqaluit Mayor Elisapee Sheutiapik challenging him.

A lot of the talk I was hearing around town was that Okalik would win this seat. Perhaps not the blow-outs he had the last couple of times he ran, but he's still premier of Nunavut and, well, I don't know a province or territory in Canada where you don't give the edge to a sitting premier in any district contest. Unless the sitting premier is loathed and a complete screw-up. And while I'm sure there are people around the territory with strong opinions regarding the premier, I suspect there aren't that many who loathe him or think he's a complete screw-up.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Okalik's presumed victory....Sheutiapik appears to be running a stronger campaign than he is. Almost the second nominations closed Sheutiapik had signs up in the district. Lots of them. Ordinarily I'd dismiss this as simply a willingness to spend lots more money. And hell, she's obviously well known in town, being the mayor and all. But Okalik is the premier and has been for nine years. He has a bit more name recognition going for him.

No, the interesting thing about the signs wasn't that they were stuck up in public areas - they were on people's houses. Lots of them. In fact, I'd say I've seen in excess of 25 signs up on people's houses or in apartment windows since the election was called. Might not seem like a lot, but remember, the population base for districts here are small (even with strong voter turn-out I will be surprised if more than 1,500 votes are cast). Plus, I might have seen about five posters for Okalik. I haven't canvassed the district and made a list of signs. There might be an area where Okalik has plenty of signs up and I just haven't seen it. But in terms of the signs on the houses war, Sheutiapik appears to be well ahead.

Could be nothing, but I find it interesting. By the way, while both candidates have been to our apartment, only one has had workers come up to me when I've been out walking Boo to let me know that advance voting was going on. And that was Sheutiapik.

The final point of interest comes from the candidates forum on Monday. Because I'm an idiot, I completely forgot about it. However, I have talked to a couple of people who were there. And the thing they noted was how beaten Okalik looked. As I said, it's a small district - I imagine both candidates have knocked on every door here by now. There's no formal polling or anything crazy like that (I'd love to get a call from a polling company asking who I was going to vote for. That would be hilarious), but I imagine both of them have a pretty decent idea of the numbers. And for Okalik to look so down, as he apparently did on Monday, isn't saying good things about his chances.

Again, I could be wrong. I could be completely talking out of my ass. Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last. And yeah, you've got to favour an incumbant premier in a district election. But let's just say I won't be too surprised if there's a surprise in Iqaluit West on Monday night.

One last thing, I hope you will all note that I'm not saying which candidate will be better or has the better platform. This is just my observations on the race and how it is being conducted, which is the whole world different on who I think should win and why.

And who do I think should win and why? Sorry, Iqaluit is a bit too small for me to get into that racket on a public blog. Maybe next time...

Last Five
1. Rainy night in Soho - The Pogues*
2. You can never hold back spring - Tom Waits
3. Pardon me madam, my name is Eve - Elvis Costello and the Imposters
4. I am a man of constant sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys
5. Turpentine - Elvis Costello and the Imposters

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