Northern Peninsula residents question Mitchelmore’s motives

Paul Hutchings
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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

Organizations: NDP, Progressive Conservatives

Geographic location: Northern Peninsula, Port Saunders, Western Star Port au Choix Gros Morne National Park

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Recent comments

  • Marshall Art
    February 05, 2014 - 09:29

    Motives? Surely there's nobody stunned enough to not understand the motives of the Paul Lanes, the Christopher Mitchelmores and the Dale Kirbys? . They're simply politicians looking out for number one; party loyalty or voter allegiance doesn't mean squat to these people. They're not unlike chameleons, the lizards that can change their color.

  • L
    February 05, 2014 - 08:13

    Great reporting ( insert sarcastic eye roll here!). These people aren't even in Mitchelmore's riding. I don't who I'm more embarrassed of, the reporter or those who were interviewed. Yikes! No wonder our political scene is in such disarray. I should add that I grew up in Port Saunders and was always very aware of who represented me as did most people in my town.

  • Dave Adey
    February 05, 2014 - 07:52

    All the people mentioned in the article are from Liberal MHA Jim Bennett's district. What's up with that?

  • Ben
    February 05, 2014 - 07:02

    The people commenting here are not even in Mitchelmore's district! They should be blaming Jim Bennett if they think nothing is being done there. Maybe if Bennett was in the district more he might be able to help the people more.

  • Dwayne Cull
    February 05, 2014 - 06:43

    You could have asked someone in his district????

  • Charles
    February 05, 2014 - 05:04

    People of the Northern Peninsula, Chris motives is for himself, And not the people of his district. All across this province people are sitting on a future. In their community, The problem is you just don't have anyone to put it into action on your behalf. And there where every community fail too. Poor leadership on part of your MHA. There over 800 hundred million dollars of products ship in each and ever year to our province, Which can be manufacture right here at home, employing over 7000 people, Putting life back into our community's. And yes I believe Government should be creating jobs. But only in a productive way, While at the same time showing our young people they still do have a future at home. Is this a crazing dream I'm having, That I wanted to see Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to stand strong and proud.