Toppling Tories

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Pity the provincial Progressive Conservatives. OK, maybe pity’s too strong a word. But you can at least feel a little bit sorry for them, especially because they might be feeling a little dazed and confused right now.

For years — for more than a decade, in fact — the Tories have been the brand of government in this province.

They’ve been in office so long that they probably can’t even imagine what sitting in an opposition seat might feel like — now, after last night’s byelection in St. George’s-Stephenville East, they’ve lost seats that were held by a former government House leader and senior cabinet minister (Joan Shea), a former premier (Kathy Dunderdale) and a former minister of finance (Jerome Kennedy).

And in Tuesday’s byelection, they didn’t just get beaten. They got shellacked.

Liberal candidate Scott Reid got 2,211 votes, easily doubling the Tories’ Wally Childs, who picked up 948. The New Democrats’ Bernice Hancock wasn’t even in the same ballpark, picking up 579 votes. (And leading NDP MP Ryan Cleary to tweet “The question is not how to stop NL Liberals, but how to boost provincial New Democrats. Status quo not working …” That’s another, and still unfolding, story.)

To put things in context, in the 2011 general election, Joan Shea pulled down 2,104 votes, trouncing Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward (1,396 votes) and Hancock (705 votes).

You can now reasonably ask, what Tory seat is a safe one? (Answer: none.)

You can also ask, how did the Tories get from where they were in the last provincial election to where they are now? (Answer: that’s a little more complicated. And solving their problem is even more tangly.)

Ever met someone who can do no wrong? Well, right now the Tories can do no right.

They’re losing ground to an overall impression. And there’s not much that’s harder to fight than that.

Have they performed better since the departure of Dunderdale?

Yes, they have. Premier Tom Marshall has been playing the right keys on the accountability piano, and the Tories have been scrambling to try and prove that they’re listening and changing.

Has it made a difference?

Apparently not. Because you don’t just have to say and do things differently, you have to be seen and heard doing things differently. To the frustration of the current government, no one seems to be listening.

In recent public opinion polls, voters have been satisfied with what the current government is doing, yet still plan to vote for someone else.

It must be maddening.

Watch now for the inevitable retirements from longtime MHAs who don’t have the stomach for a potentially losing fight. Will the Tories lose in 2015? Politics is a strange business, and things change. Right now, though, it’s grim.

One more telling point?

Politics in this province is often a participatory sport, with everyone and their uncle jockeying to make their point of view known.

By mid-morning Wednesday, not one comment had been filed on stories about the byelection win on either The Telegram’s website or on the CBC’s site.

At The Western Star, much closer to the byelection, there was one single online comment, congratulating Reid.

The Tories?

Not gone. But forgotten.

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Stephenville East, Western Star

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Recent comments

  • ToryGlory
    August 29, 2014 - 18:38

    You are all just criticizing for the sake of it, you must believe in Muskrat, who saved all of Earths creatures by holding his breath. The native american legend is as well a Labrador prophecy. Muskrat dies publically but saves us all by clinging to a clump of dirt. We would have never gotten through all the envirohoops if we made this a private development in the beginning, without Harper, God bless him twice over. Muskrat will be renamed Williams Falls in honor of his intelligent strategy to bring mining cheap energy make jobs. This means good jobs, in uranium, ree, iron&ironsands. The Liberals will cancel this, Nalcor will be divided up, and the project will continue like a Phoenix. The little bit of tick-money got wasted because too many complainers stirred up too much twitter trouble about the wizard ways of da bys in Ottawa. So what. It will all work out. Have faith. It's only 864MW, not abig deal.

  • jerome
    August 29, 2014 - 13:45

    Danny started the ball rolling, with MF and then bailed. Even when the project made no economic sense and was shown to be a long term burden on the tax payers of the province, Danny from the backroom of the PC party was still touting the great returns to the province the project will be. Even with no contracts, except the give away to NS, the project still proceeded. Then Bill 29, what did they need to hide, the real story of MF. And don't forget it was Danny that increase the civil service by 20% and squandered our $10 Billion win from the offshore. Danny's legacy , sure !!!

  • Doug
    August 28, 2014 - 15:38

    Don't know what dreamworld the NDP lives in. Michaels was on saying that they kept their vote from last time. They must love losing elections because they all voted to keep her on in May

  • Maurice E. Adams
    August 28, 2014 - 13:35

    And, so far, a 3rd, 1.4 km long concrete dam (they call it a "cut-off wall" so that the public will not get upset) will have to be built to try and stabilize the North Spur. How many hundreds of millions worth of concrete will be needed for that?

    • Nichol
      August 28, 2014 - 15:50

      Yes, and it is all in a quest to produce electricity that will have to be sold for peanuts, if it can be sold at all, outside NL. Today's spot price paid in New England is 3.8 cents/KWh. How many multiples of that will it cost to produce a KWh at Muskrat Falls? The poor NL ratepayer has been legislated to pay for it one else. MF is truly a project that was doomed to failure by timing and markets, even before the blind arrogance appeared that spawned the insanity of it!

  • guy incognito
    August 28, 2014 - 13:09

    Danny Williams, Jerome Kennedy, Kathy Stunderdale, Ed Martin...... These names will go down in infamy in Newfoundland history...

    • Dolf
      August 29, 2014 - 07:12

      Along with our money.

  • W Bagg
    August 28, 2014 - 11:43

    The problem with the Tories is/ was Danny Williams (as good as he was). Danny did not encourage or allow opinions other than his own. Hence, his cabinet and the rest of the coat tail riders have been trained to not question any issue or policy. Now what we are left with is a crew who are unable to create, question or even listen to constructive criticism. IF you disagree, ask the 5 MHAs who felt the wrath and quit or were removed from Caucus of danny.

  • Nichol
    August 28, 2014 - 10:32

    Any thinking person need only take a good look at the PC record. They have spent over $10 billion in oil revenues, while the Provincial infrastructure crumbles. Our Provincial roads are like cow paths.The PC's are running a third successive deficit budget...$500 million this year alone. We're broke, is what that means. They are charging blindly towards completion of an $8 billion project which is not needed, and has effectively doubled the Provincial debt. Muskrat Falls will produce very high cost electricity, which only the NL ratepayers will have to pay for. Quebec averaged revenue of just 3 cents/KWh for its expert power last year. Nalcor ignored major changes in this marketplace years ago which resulted in huge surpluses of electricity in Quebec. ON and Manitoba have surpluses too. We still have the highest unemployment in Canada, in spite of the Tories so called 'unprecedented economic boom'. Our economy has a very large dependence upon western Canada employment...take a look at any airport to see how many are doing western turn arounds. Our population is not growing, and manufacturing businesses continue to leave the very high cost business environment in NL. There is no new demand for industrial power. That's the Williams Tory legacy in NL, along with a 50 year+ mortgage to pay for the Muskrat Falls insanity. These people defeated themselves, and a stuffed monkey could have done a better job, considering the unprecedented access to huge oil revenues that the PC Government had, unlike their Liberal predecessors. They will be destroyed in the next general election. Good riddance!

  • Don
    August 28, 2014 - 08:48

    It is a pity that this is happening and it did not have to happen. The PCs have a poor attitude but it could have been turned around when Marshall became premier, but he did not respond to the people and this has been the most disappointing part of this mess. Yes we have seen the blunders of people like Darin King, the poor attitude he displays, the obvious showings that he is out of touch with the reality of what we are about here in NL, the unfairness he has displayed just to support his friends in politics rather than letting justice prevail, abuses of power and the list goes on. Tom Marshall could have gained our confidence back by just adding one more move to the cabinet shuffle he made. He could and should have moved Darin King out of cabinet. The people of this province would have given this party a reasonable doubt and would have favoured the move and praised the premier. Instead he put the party (for Darin King) ahead of the people of this province and put his reputation in the same place as Darin King's and the rest of the party. The PCs should be pitied and should be ashamed of themselves. We should be in a situation as a have province where we should be loving the politicians had they treated us and the province's business with a little respect. We are not there and heaven forbid where we would be if we had no resources and was in a situation like we were just 10-15 years ago. What a shameful group. Soon there will be members announcing that they will not be running again and will say they have had a good career in politics etc; Then there will be the stubborn people like Tracy Perry who will try to hang on and keep telling people that she will advocate for us and keep telling mis-truths about all she has done for us. Just to save face and some embarrassment for her and the party, Marshall gave her extra responsibility to try to save face. Disgraceful. I hate to say this, but we the voters should be more ashamed for giving these people the chance to destroy us like they have. Time for a change and for the voters to take the next election as serious as we expect the politicians to take us. Perry, King, Daley, O'brien, Collins need to do what Marshall is doing and that is to leave politics and let the new leaders regain some respect for here in this wonderful province of ours.

  • Too Funny
    August 28, 2014 - 07:46

    "they probably can’t even imagine what sitting in an opposition". They don't imagine being in opposition because they won't be in opposition. They'll be retiring with their golden pensions, laughing all the way to the bank. That's the routine. The Liberals did it before them, the PCs are doing it now, and in 10 to 15 years the Liberals will do it again. Nothing changes in NL politics, just the color of the party in power. And people wonder why voter turnout is so low.

  • Jack
    August 28, 2014 - 07:36

    I have no issue with editorials which are the view of the writer and may or may not reflect the common view. They are fodder for debate especially when commenting on politics. I have however noticed a trend in all stories including editorials that I perceive as a language bias and could stretch to a political bias. Why is it the journalists insist on calling the Conservatives - Tories but rarely call the Liberals - Grits which is the offsetting term coined for them. I don't see either as a term of endearment so the continued use of Tories to me represents clear bias. Perhaps a balanced use of Grits for Liberal might help.

  • Corporate Psycho
    August 28, 2014 - 04:56

    It was really over the minute they touted Steve Kent as a possible leader. Smacks of desperation.