It looked like the ghost of the Anything But Conservative campaign would continue to haunt Stephen Harper’s party in this province, until a late surge by Peter Penashue turned Labrador Tory blue for only the second time since Confederation.
Liberal incumbent Todd Russell had earlier been declared the winner by the CBC. But Penashue made up ground in the last number of polls to report, and pulled off the surprise upset by 231 votes.
“Watching the whole of the polls come in, it was like a roller-coaster ride. … It was a hell of a ride, put it that way,” Penashue told The Telegram from Happy Valley-Goose Bay after his victory.
“I just want to thank all the people of Labrador for taking the risk for change and taking the risk to go in a different direction,” he added.
Meanwhile, the capital city was completely captured by the NDP.
Jack Harris held his St. John’s East seat, while in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, Ryan Cleary gained the seat for the New Democrats.
Incumbent Siobhan Coady was defeated by Cleary, who was only about 1,000 votes shy of her in 2008. This time, Cleary easily captured the seat by a margin of more than 7,500 votes.
He told reporters an inquiry into the fishery and the establishment of a national energy policy were among his priorities.
Four Liberals were returned to Ottawa from this province. Scott Andrews beat former Conservative Senator Fabian Manning by just over 1,100 votes, a tighter margin than when the two squared off in 2008.
Gerry Byrne easily held Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte by almost 10,000 votes over Conservative Trevor Taylor. Judy Foote retained Random-Burin-St. Georges with a 4,500 vote margin.
Scott Simms was the first MP in the country to be declared a winner, in Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, beating Conservative Aaron Hynes by more than 9,000 votes.
“Watching the whole of the polls come in, it was like a roller-coaster ride. … It was a hell of a ride, put it that way.” - Peter Penashue
Although the Conservatives were not shut out in this election, several winning candidates mused about the potential fallout of Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s support for the federal Conservatives this time, after campaigning against them in 2008.
“I think that this is going to make a difference come Oct. 11 in the provincial election,” Cleary told reporters. “I think Premier Dunderdale made a mistake. She supported a horse too early … and I think that she’s going to pay a price come October.”
Andrews also suggested the provincial Tories could face a backlash from voters for supporting Harper.
“It’s amazing in two and a half years their opinions changed on Stephen Harper and they got out there and worked. But obviously it didn’t pan (out),” he said. “I heard rumblings out there, over the last six weeks, that the provincial MHAs, a lot of people have lost a lot a respect for what they have done.”
Provincial Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson was at Manning’s post-election party and was also asked about the potential consequences of supporting the Conservatives, when the electorate in this province largely rejected them.
“I’m feeling, as I always do when we have a defeat on our hands, I feel very bad,” he said. “Obviously, as we move forward, we stand on our record, and our record as a government is a good record.”
Hedderson said the overall showing by the federal party was a “hard blow,” but also looked to the positive.
“Any win is an important win, and for Peter, his first time out, I can only have congratulations for him. For us as a province, we do have a sitting (government) member and that’s a positive thing.”