Several ready to help on hustings
File Photo — The Telegram
Many opposition election candidates are getting some help from their federal friends.
A number of MPs say they plan to hit the hustings with their provincial counterparts during the impending provincial election campaign.
Liberal Judy Foote and New Democratic Ryan Cleary aren’t waiting for the writ to drop. They’ve been out already.
“I have knocked on doors with almost all of the candidates (in my district) in the evenings or on the weekends or whatever,” said Cleary, MP for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl.
The participation of provincial politicians in a federal election campaign has generated controversy in recent years, especially after the 2008 Anything But Conservative (ABC) campaign saw provincial Tories, including current Premier Kathy Dunderdale, campaigning for federal Liberals.
The involvement of federal MPs in a provincial vote hasn’t been a bone of public contention. It’s been happening for a long time, though, and the 2011 election won’t be any different.
The Telegram asked the province’s seven MPs about their plans for the run-up to the Oct. 11 election.
Four — three Liberals and one NDP — responded. They all plan on being involved, each of them implying it helps them reconnect with constituents.
Foote said there was no reluctance to help some of the hopefuls, even though she had just been through a federal election a few months ago.
“I’m a born campaigner. I like what I do,” the MP for Random-Burin-St. George’s said.
Her colleague, Gerry Byrne, noted there is a limited opposition in the House of Assembly and, by getting involved in the campaign, he’s hoping to spur debate on provincial matters needing attention, issues such as the Lower Churchill, the provision of health care and the standoff between the government and independent pharmacy owners.
“This is nothing that Premier Kathy Dunderdale doesn’t agree with,” the Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte MP quipped. “She gets involved in federal election campaigns to allow debate to occur. And I intend to follow her lead.”
Fellow Liberal Scott Simms, who represents Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, said he plans to spend a day or half-day campaigning with four candidates in his riding.
He said his schedule prevents him from doing more.
His motivation is to help his provincial counterparts, something he’s done for the past couple of elections.
Foote hopes the respect voters have shown her over her career in provincial and federal politics helps garner support.
Most of the MPs lauded the quality of the provincial candidates.
Foote and Cleary both said the people they’ve been supporting are getting favourable reaction at the door.
When knocking on doors, Cleary explained, he introduces himself, as the MP, and then the candidate.
He noted there’s still a momentum from the NDP’s performance in May’s federal election.
“People are still excited about it,” he said. “People talk about Jack Layton, and they offer their regrets, but people still feel the energy and they talk about the energy and say it’s time for change. That’s the message I’m getting at the door.”
Foote hopes her efforts during the campaign lead to more Liberals in the House of Assembly. No doubt her Liberal colleagues feel the same way.
Cleary, who has also campaigned with candidates outside his riding, believes his party will see the most gains.
“An NDP minority government,” he predicts.