Conservative candidate Peter Penashue addresses supporters following his loss in the Labrador byelection. — Photo by Bonnie Learning/TC Media
Happy Valley-Goose Bay - Despite the staggering loss in the polls, Conservative Peter Penashue was greeted with cheers from his supporters as he entered Maxwells bar in Happy Valley-Goose Bay just after 10 p.m.
"I just want to thank everyone who helped out. We had a good run at this election," he said.
Penashue lost the byelection for Labrador to Liberal Yvonne Jones, who took 48.2 per cent of the vote.
The unofficial vote totals were Jones 5,814 votes; Penashue 3,922 votes; NDP Harry Borlase 2,273 votes; and Libertarian Norman Andrews with 50 votes.
Penashue has been involved in many election campaigns over the years. He said there are always winners and losers.
"Tonight, we are the losers," he said to a subdued crowd. "But we have to honour the people who made that decision. People have to take responsibility for their decisions."
Penashue thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his faith in him and for the time spent at the federal cabinet table.
"It's been a tremendous opportunity and experience for me over the last 2 1/2 years. I feel I have made a huge contribution to Labrador. I have accomplished far more in these 2 1/2 years than any other MP for Labrador."
Penashue stated this is a "new chapter" for everyone.
"We have to move forward with the new reality that Labrador has decided on.
"My children always take it hard, take it personally when I lose an election. But I tell them someone has to win and someone had to lose. In my view, Labrador lost. There is not much more to say."
Earlier in the evening, as the polls closed, some of Penashue's supporters began to trickle into Maxwells.
Among them was longtime barber Henry White who, as soon as the byelection was called, set up a "barber shop poll" to gauge his customers' views on the candidates.
For four weeks he chatted and debated with his patrons, encouraging them to cast their vote on election day.
Of the 280 votes cast, he said, roughly 70 per cent were in favour of Penashue.
"I had two customers come into the shop just this past Saturday, who were from Nunatsiavut," noted White.
"They said to me, 'Yvonne Jones has a big wake-up call coming.'"
White said although he wasn't sure exactly what was meant by that statement, the two customers expressed their support for Penashue, but also mentioned there appeared to be a bit of support for Borlase.
As for White, he fears that with Penashue defeated, Labrador will be shut out of any major money or investments in the foreseeable future.
"Goose Bay will be screwed," he said. "I mean, Muskrat Falls, the work on the Trans-Labrador Highway ... those things are done deals. But with regards to anything new? Nothing will be done.
"Yvonne Jones will be so far behind (in Parliament) you will need a magnifying glass to find her. She will do nothing for Labrador. It will be just like the 35 years of bullshit we had with the Liberals (in Labrador). They're the ones who downsized (5 Wing Goose Bay) over the years."
According to Elections Canada, there were 20,251 registered voters in Labrador. Voter turnout was 59.6 per cent according to Elections Canada.