You wouldn’t know it’s a three-candidate race in Burin-Placentia West after attending NDP candidate Julie Mitchell’s lunchtime rally at her Marystown headquarters Friday.
All the criticism and jeers were reserved solely for incumbent PC candidate Clyde Jackman, who has represented the region for the past eight years, serving as the province’s Fisheries minister for the last two.
Liberal candidate Jackie Mullett also joined the fray in the district last Tuesday.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael was on hand to lend her support for Mitchell.
Hers was the first visit to the Burin Peninsula by a party leader since the election writ dropped nine days ago.
About three-dozen supporters filled the headquarters with chants of “NDP!” and the party’s slogan, “It’s Time!”
Another individual chimed in with a hopeful “Bring on the orange crush!”
But shouts of “Shame, shame!” were reserved for Jackman.
Michael suggested there should be no reason for the Ocean Choice International (OCI) fish plant and the Peter Kiewit Offshore shipyard to be sitting idle in the community.
Employees with both Marystown-based operations have experienced significant labour issues in the past several months.
“I’m here today because I’m so upset with the Dunderdale government that they can allow these industries to be lying fallow here in Marystown,” Michael said.
Michael also criticized Jackman and the provincial government for allowing Ocean Choice’s exemption to export red fish to continue while employees at the company’s plant in Marystown are out of work.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful that fish plant workers from Marystown have to be over in Bay Roberts, protesting as they are 24/7, for nothing else but justice,” she said.
“They should be in that fish plant.”
Michael was referring to an ongoing protest in that community to prevent one of OCI’s vessels from leaving port to go back to sea.
There were also charges from the NDP leader that the Dunderdale government has been too friendly to corporations while many workers struggle to get by.
“You wouldn’t have an OCI making profits without workers. You wouldn’t have ferries being built and companies like Kiewit making profits without workers. It’s the workers who are the backbone, and this government doesn’t understand it,” Michael said.
Sounding confident, and sometimes hoarse, Mitchell took her own shots at Jackman.
“We are a team that’s going to be there for the people. We’re not going to be there for the companies. We don’t mind having industry — we need industry — but if you forget the people you were elected to represent, then it’s time for you to go.”
Mitchell promised supporters she would be there to listen to their concerns.
“It’s not just about Marystown and Burin. It’s about Boat Harbour. It’s about Parker’s Cove. It’s about South East Bight. It’s about Petite Forte. It’s about Beau Bois. It’s about Rock Harbour.
“It’s about Burin-Placentia West. Because all of the people in Burin-Placentia West feel disenfranchised. And that’s not what a government representative is about.”
Meanwhile, Michael later said she continues to seek an NDP candidate for the district of Grand Bank, noting the party had candidates in place for 43 of the 48 districts as of Friday.
She promised to try her best to field a full complement in the Oct. 11 election.
“I’ve been working extremely hard, and we still have people that we’re phoning. And we certainly hope to have a candidate.”