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Premier Dwight Ball brushes aside allegations of being ‘sneaky,’ says preparation is important
It’s hard to say what the voter turnout will be for the May 16 election, but the candidate turnout amounts to 63 per cent.
If the four registered parties each had 40 candidates, the maximum number of non-independent candidates would be 160. The province will instead get 101 candidates from registered political parties and another nine independent candidates from which to choose 40 representatives.
Former Liberal cabinet minister Dale Kirby has decided not to seek re-election. Kirby did not provide comment prior to The Telegram’s deadline. In total, four sitting MHAs will not seek re-election on May 16.
Premier Dwight Ball’s Liberals are the only party to field a full slate of candidates. He says it comes down to preparation.
“In 2015, everyone knew there would be an election in 2019. For months, people were saying let’s move it from the fall election date simply because of the conflict with the federal government,” said Ball.
“On March 30 this year, the NDP said to the party president that they would be ready for an election. In late March, prior to us letting people know that there would be an election before the end of June, they called all 40 districts. They were a party that were getting ready and had all districts called before we had all our districts called.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie will have 39 candidates under his banner. The single district without a PC candidate is Waterford Valley. Crosbie says their intended candidate ran into an “unexpected personal issue” and was unable to file their papers.
Crosbie says Ball played sneaky with an early election call.
“Sneaky is a fair word to use because we have a fixed-date election act. What Mr. Ball could have done is amended the legislation to specify a regular date in the spring,” said Crosbie.
“He should have done that weeks ago so the spirit of the fixed elections act was preserved, so everyone knew when it was coming. Instead, he played hide-and-seek over it.”
New Democratic Party Leader Alison Coffin is on-side with Crosbie on this matter. The NDP will have 14 candidates on the ballot on May 16.
Coffin says there were seven or eight candidates ready to run in the fall, but the timing of the early election made it impossible for them to run.
“They had work commitments, they had other things they needed to arrange and it just wasn’t possible for them to do it,” said Coffin.
“It goes back to the fact that the election was rushed. That tells us that the Liberals are not committed to democratic reform. When they established the democratic reform committee, they’ve had two meetings in the last seven weeks. Their commitment to democratic reform is questionable, at best.”
Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance Leader Graydon Pelley says nine candidates for a newly minted party ahead of a snap election is a good sign of things to come for the Alliance.
“Considering that we weren’t certified until the 12th of April, it’s phenomenal that we have nine candidates,” he said.
“When this election is done, we go from the day it’s done to start getting ready for the next one.”
- Liberal: 40/40
- Progressive Conservative: 39/40
- New Democratic Party: 14/40
- N.L. Alliance: 9/40
- Independent: 9
Districts with two candidates: 13/40
Districts with three candidates: 16/40
Districts with four candidates: 8/40