Tory surprise in Labrador

Dave Bartlett
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NDP wins both St. John’s ridings

Liberal Todd Russell (left) congratulates new Conservative MP Peter Penashue on his victory in the Labrador riding. — Photo by Adam Randell/Transcontinental Media

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.”

Organizations: Conservatives, CBC, The Telegram

Geographic location: Labrador, Happy Valley, Goose Bay Ottawa Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor

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Recent comments

  • Tom from Labrador
    May 22, 2011 - 20:31

    I am so proud of the people in Labrador for voting conserative,I though we would be stuck with a liberal in Ottawa,and i had a feeling that the conseratives would get a majority goverment.I think we are so lucky to have a man like Peter to take care of our province in Ottawa.I cant imagine 4 plus years without someone at the cabinet table representing our province.So i think Labrador saved the provinces butts again.....

  • Anon
    May 03, 2011 - 22:23

    Harper has a majority. Say goodbye to Canada and hello to private prisons and useless drug laws.

  • keith
    May 03, 2011 - 21:30

    to bad the rest of the country didn't vote like NL, why vote for the conservatives in NL? they would break there promises and stand by their party instead of their province.

  • Roland Kean
    May 03, 2011 - 14:40

    Mary - you are so so right. Newfoundland continues to cut off its nose to spite its face with this ABC compaign. What have we got now, 4 members in a rump party that can do nothing.

  • J
    May 03, 2011 - 12:51

    So, people voted in Cleary who favours a National Energy Policy. I cannot believe some people are so short sighted. Look up what happened to Alberta after the NEP was introduced - Do you not think they same thing will happen to Newfoundland if a NDP Federal Gvt. was elected. Unbelievable. Doesn't surprise me that you all voted ABC - I shouldn't need to elaborate.

  • P Connors
    May 03, 2011 - 09:38

    The best canidate won in Labrador....its not so much as what Party they represent but what the person will do for us and Peter will not disappoint us.

  • Mary Benedict
    May 03, 2011 - 08:03

    My opinion is that Newfoundlanders were not thinking rationally by not putting more representatives for Nfld, Lab. in Ottawa. They let the Danny Williams opinion influence their judgement. If you look at the overall picture, our Country is in more stable condition than any other country thanks to the Job Stephen Harper since being elected before with a minority government although he had so much needless harrassment from the Liberals and NDP while trying to keep our country in good shape economically. Thank you Stephen Harper and congratulations, the opposition did you a favor by bringing down the government, now you have very comfortable majority. Keep up the good work.

    • Brett
      May 03, 2011 - 13:10

      Agreed Mary. The results were disappointing to me, and shows Newfoundlanders as being out of touch with the rest of Canada's values and perspectives.