Liberal candidate takes almost half the vote Penashue finishes distant second
A supporter embrace Liberal Yvonne Jones after her victory speech. — Photo by Derek Montague/TC Media
Happy Valley-Goose Bay — The sound of cheers was almost deafening as Yvonne Jones walked into Tenders Lounge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to join her supporters at the Liberal election party. The crowd had assembled as the first of the ballots were being counted across Labrador.
When the results started popping up on the big screen, Jones was ahead of Conservative Peter Penashue and New Democrat Harry Borlase. The crowd of supporters stared at the results as they came in throughout the night, cautiously optimistic that Jones was going to hold on to her widening lead.
When Jones appeared at Tenders to make her speech, it was the signal that everyone could start celebrating.
"When I was reflecting on this election win tonight, I was saying, 'I'm the first person in the country to beat the Harper government in a byelection,'" Jones said to raucous applause.
"The people of Labrador wanted change. Not necessarily a change in political party, but they want a change in how Labrador is being dealt with. They want representation that's going to put Labrador first, and I guarantee you, they got it tonight."
Jones and the Conservative incumbent Peter Penashue had a war of words during this campaign. The most notable incident happened during a live radio debate when Penashue accused Jones of "double-dipping" while she was MHA, and having her wages garnished to repay the taxpayers' money. Jones responded, during an interview with The Labradorian, by saying that she could sue Penashue for defamation if she chose to. But in the moments after her convincing victory in Labrador, that was all water under the bridge for Jones.
"Most people who know me, they know I'm very forgiving," said Jones. "If you're not forgiving in politics, you'll never survive in politics, and that has been my experience. I also believe that anyone who puts themselves out there in a political race, and opens themselves up to the public ... they do so for very strong reasons."
During her speech, Jones called for unity among all Labradorians, including those who didn't vote for her in this byelection. She went as far as to compliment Borlase and Penashue for their campaigns.
"My colleagues in this campaign, they were on that ballot because they, too, believe in Labrador," said Jones. "It was nice to see Harry Borlase come back home and run in this election, and I want to invite Harry and his family to stay in Labrador and be a part of what we're doing here."
"And to Peter Penashue: I remember Peter when he was a leader of the Innu and a strong leader ... and I hope, Peter, that you get that back. I hope, once again, that you will rise as a powerful and tremendous leader of the Innu people, and that will benefit all of Labrador."
Jones says she's due to start a week from Wednesday in Ottawa, and she has a long list of priorities to bring to the House of Commons.
"It didn't matter where you went in Labrador - it was challenge that many Labradorians were facing, and it ranged from transportation to housing issues to affordable living. All of these things were a factor and they really felt that no one was speaking up; nobody was championing their issues."
Jones later added that her Top 3 priorities are dealing with Labrador's housing crisis, jobs and transportation.
"These are the three particular issues that continue to surface in Labrador," says Jones.