The byelection result in Carbonear-Harbour Grace on Nov. 26 is one that will be debated for a long time to come. Does this result spell the end of a decade-plus of Tory rule in this province, or is this a bump in the road that every party faces during their time in office?
A lot of people will tell you it’s the former, that the Progressive Conservatives are approaching their expiry date, that the Liberals are on the upswing here in the province and this victory proves it.
Me, I think it’s the latter. I think what people are not realizing is that this is not a breakthrough for the Liberals by any stretch. This seat was theirs for years. They won the seat during the PC landslide of 2003 by a decent margin, and in former premier Brian Peckford’s first election of 1979, they won the old Carbonear seat by a comfortable margin and came close to winning the old Harbour Grace seat as well. Add the fact that the Liberal candidate there, in Sam Slade, was a popular mayor in that town, and you can see why this had Liberal victory marked all over it.
Still, what this byelection result proves is that the PCs have to take a look at what they’re doing and how they can get their message across better to the people of the province.
The Liberals, while having every right to be happy they won the seat, have to realize that, until they can win the true swing seats back, like Trinity-Bay De Verde, Burin Placentia West, Terra Nova, Humber West or Conception Bay East-Bell Island — or if they can do like the PCs did and steal a traditional PC seat like Baie Verte Springdale, Bonavista South, Cape St. Francis, Kilbride or Ferryland the way the PCs won Bonavista North or The Straits-White Bay North in the leadup to the 2003 general election — then this byelection win was all for naught. People forget that the PCs won St. John’s West in a 1997 byelection and in the election two years later didn't win back government.
In closing, yes, the polls don’t look good for the PCs right now, but there’s still two years to go, and what happened in the byelection in Carbonear-
Harbour Grace shouldn’t be indicative of what happens in the 2015 general election.