With the Liberal Party picking up two extra seats in the House of Assembly, Northern Peninsula residents wonder if things will improve for their area with their local MHA crossing the floor.
Christopher Mitchelmore made the switch to the Liberals Tuesday after several months of speculation. The MHA for Straits-White Bay North left the provincial New Democrats amid questions over the leadership of Lorraine Michael.
While the Liberals now appear stronger in the province, with Leader Dwight Ball pulling in high numbers in recent polls, some Northern Peninsula residents appear to question his motives and wonder what it will really mean for their area.
Many say the province has not met the needs of the Northern Peninsula, and believe that likely won’t change no matter what happens on the political spectrum.
“It’s hard to say,” said Jean Jesso of Port au Choix. “Whether it’s the Liberals or the NDP, I’m not really sure it’s going to mean much of a change for us here. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”
Delores Kennedy of Port Saunders echoed Jesso’s sentiments and implied that she was glad Mitchelmore did not join the governing Progressive Conservatives.
“The Conservatives really haven’t done much for this area at all, but I liked (Michael),” she said. “I hope we’ll have a better chance at getting something done for the area if (Mitchelmore) changed parties. Otherwise, what was the point?”
Mitchelmore had been sitting in the house since the fall as an independent, along with Dale Kirby, former NDP MHA from St. John’s. Both were a part of an NDP surge in the 2011 election.
Kirby also joined the Liberal party Tuesday.
Mitchelmore played it close to the vest when he left the NDP last fall, telling The Western Star that he will listen to his constituents and take his cues from them.
Sharron Elgar of Port Saunders wondered about the MHA’s true motives.
“Is he doing this because of party policy or because of his own policy?” she asked. “I’m not really sure what he is doing, but I hope it does something for us because we’re being ignored in this part of the province.”
She said residents have long complained that the view in the house seems to be that residents cease to exist when driving north of Gros Morne National Park. There has been nothing done, she said, and she sees no indication that Mitchelmore’s party switch will change that.
“People may even lose respect for him if he is changing parties like this,” she said. “We will just have to hope he knows what he is doing.”
The move leaves the NDP with three seats provincially, and brings the total number of seats held by the Liberals up to 11. The PCs hold 34 seats.
The Western Star