Memorial University professor Alison Coffin has been named the new leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party.
Coffin was the only applicant for the leadership of the party following Gerry Rogers’ announcement that she will not seek re-election in the coming provincial election.
“I’m just tingling all over. It’s a wonderful feeling,” Coffin said shortly after the results were announced Tuesday morning at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s.
Coffin says she’s bringing a new face and new energy to the NDP.
“I have tremendous energy. I don’t think I’ve been jaded by a lot of longstanding Liberal and Tory mindsets,” she said.
“I am fresh, I am new, I provide a very different perspective, but a solid grounding in government policies and the fiscal and economic circumstances of the province. This is what I’ve been doing. Now I’ll be in charge of making those policies work for people.”
Coffin says she would be in a better position had she won the last leadership contest against Rogers in May 2018, but she’s looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“I certainly would have contributed to the development of the platform a bit more and a little more knowledge of what our potential candidates are. But I think Gerry has done a stellar job in getting together our election planning committee,” she said.
“So, for me now it’s just stepping and carrying on from there, but of a bigger learning curve, but I’m sure I’ll be just fine.”
As for where her name will appear on the ballot, Coffin says she’s not decided yet. While she has previously indicated leaning toward St. John’s Centre, where Rogers currently sits, she says “serious conversations” with the party executive are coming on that question.
St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi has played home to Lorraine Michael and Jack Harris during their time as leaders of the party, and where Michael still maintains her seat.
Coffin says she’s not going to “choose sides” in the upcoming nomination race for the district between Michael and St. John’s Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary.
The question now is how much time the NDP will have to prepare for the provincial election. Coffin says district associations have been started, but not in all districts in the province.
Premier Dwight Ball has indicated he would check in with the party by April 1 on their election readiness to help inform plans for the coming election.
The legislative dates for the election are either Oct. 8 or Nov. 25, unless an early election is called.
Alison Coffin is the new leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party.
The party made the announcement Tuesday morning at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s.
Coffin was the sole applicant for the party leadership race by the Friday deadline.
“Today we change politics in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Coffin told a room full of NDP supporters.
Coffin becomes the third elected party leader since 2015 when Earle McCurdy beat Mike Goosney and Chris Bruce for the leadership. After McCurdy resigned and Lorraine Michael became interim leader, Gerry Rogers beat out Coffin for the leadership in May 2018.