Joined: 02 Mar 2009
|Posted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:24 am Post subject: Liberals win provincial byelection in Newfoundland
|Marshall comes to town
Liberals win byelection in The Straits-White Bay North
JONATHAN RUSSELL AND DAVE BARTLETT
Transcontinental Media and The Telegram
Liberal candidate Marshall Dean (right) won by 139 votes over Rick Pelley of the Conservatives in Tuesday night's byelection in The Straits-White Bay North, a district previously held by the Tories. - Photo by Jonathan Russell/Northern Pen
The official Opposition is now one seat stronger in the House of Assembly.
Liberal candidate Marshall Dean was voted in as the newest MHA after winning the byelection in The Straits-White Bay North Tuesday night.
"I feel tremendously humbled by the fact that people in this district put such great confidence in me as a candidate; that they would want me to represent them in the House of Assembly," Dean said.
The Liberal candidate won 47 per cent of the vote (1,925), Progressive Conservative candidate Rick Pelley won 44.7 per cent (1,799) and New Democratic party candidate Dale Colbourne won 7.9 per cent (321).
The win gives the Liberals four seats in the House to the PCs' 42 and the NDPs' one.
Of the 6,816 eligible voters in the district, 4,045 (59 per cent) cast ballots.
Dean edged out Pelley by 126 votes.
The Straits area of the Northern Peninsula largely contributed to the Liberals squeaking out a victory. The same area of the district went from Liberal red to Tory blue in 2001 - also a byelection.
Trevor Taylor won that byelection over Liberal Ross Pilgrim by 216 votes and was the first Tory to wrestle the seat from the Liberals since Confederation.
That election had been called because of Brian Tobin's resignation to run for federal politics.
Taylor held the seat until he resigned as Minister of Transportation and from politics late last month.
The government came under fire recently for its plans to cut laboratory and X-ray services at the Strait of Belle Isle Health Centre in Flower's Cove, in addition to reducing the operating hours of the clinic from 24 hours to 12.
Since the byelection was called, Health Minister Jerome Kennedy, with Premier Danny Williams at his side, reversed the proposed cuts, prompting accusations by the opposition of trying to buy votes.
"(The provincial government) failed the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador in particular," Dean said after his victory. "All I can say is that the opposition voice in Newfoundland and Labrador just gained a lot of credibility. It grew a lot stronger and it will be pressing every day, representing not only this district but other districts throughout the province that have similar concerns to ours, in terms of how this government is governing this province."
Following her loss, she endorsed the Liberal candidate.
"It shows that people have actually had it with the PCs, and it's about time," Colbourne said. "I said from the beginning that if I didn't win - which I didn't really think I would - I wanted the Liberals to win. I think it's still going to be a voice against Danny, and I think Marshall will be an effective voice."
In front of television cameras, after a congratulatory visit to the Liberal headquarters, Pelley was at a loss to explain the result.
"They must have been dissatisfied in some way, I'm not sure what, to be honest with you. The government has invested $130 million in this area in the last maybe four, five years. I don't really know, honestly, what their beef is. But anyway, they've spoken, and that's about it," he said.
Most recently, the government has invested $9 million into the Roddickton forestry industry. Investments have also been made to Route 430 and municipal infrastructure, as well as a new K-12 school/civic centre in St. Anthony, scheduled to open in fall 2011.
"It's hard to know how people think, because you go to the doors and sometimes you feel like you got support," Pelley said. "But you can't always believe what you hear at the doors. The people have spoken."
Williams spoke to reporters in St. John's shortly after the results were final.
"We knew we were in a fight and it was a hard battle, and full marks to Marshall Dean and to the Liberal party for pulling this out," he said.
Williams acknowledged the district has been traditionally Liberal and said it was the many small communities in the area that pushed the Liberals over the top.
"But that's politics," he said with a shrug.
Williams agreed the proposed cuts to laboratory and X-ray services in Flower's Cove, which his government reversed last week, did play a role in the defeat.
But he said the promise that the cuts were off the table, no matter the outcome of the byelection, stands.
"The one thing I can certainly tell the voters in Flower's Cove and The Straits part of the district is that we've made a commitment to them and we'll honour that commitment."
Williams said there's a lesson in the defeat which isn't lost on him, but he's convinced when a general election is called in two years, the PCs have a chance to take the district back considering the byelection was won by 126 votes.
The premier wasn't sure if the yet- to-be announced byelection in Terra Nova will be as close, but acknowledged that district also has Liberal roots.
He did vow, however, to fight that and any other byelection with as much vigour.
The Northern Pen email@example.com
Here are the unofficial results for the
byelection in The Straits-White Bay North.
DEAN, Marshall 1,925
PELLEY, Rick D. 1,799
Progressive Conservative Party
COLBOURNE, Dale 321
New Democratic Party