Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie began his stern speech to supporters by calling the Liberal minority win “a unique situation in which the tide is going out on the Ball Liberal government.”
“The Ball Liberals are on their way out, the tide is receding, and I am not conceding victory to the Liberals – they will have to struggle for the next months and years to hang on to power,” he said.
Dwight Ball’s Liberals emerged with 20 seats, a loss of seven seats in the House of Assembly. The Tories gained seven seats, with 15 candidates voted into office. The NDP emerged with three seats and two Independent candidates, Paul Lane and Eddie Joyce, were victorious.
Crosbie calls the situation one of constitutional instability.
“It will not end up with Dwight Ball as premier of Newfoundland in one year from now,” he said to cheers.
“The popular vote is extremely close, within a razor’s edge – the seat count somewhat different, but the people of this province have expressed their dissatisfaction with the Ball Liberal drift, indecision and lack of direction.”
“It will not end up with Dwight Ball as premier of Newfoundland in one year from now." — Ches Crosbie
Crosbie referred to the NDP and independents as “friends” of the PCs who “see the situation in similar terms as we do.”
“Over the coming days and weeks we will have discussions with them about their attitude to the path down which the Ball Liberal government is leading us, towards lack of jobs, lack of hope, lack of affordable future and dishonest government, and we will work with those independent members and with NDP members in the near future to ensure that the path for Newfoundland and Labrador is one of prosperity, hope, and a future of jobs and employment and honesty.”
Crosbie accused the Liberals of cutting the democratic process short with the early election call. The election was fixed for the fall but the Liberals called it early, saying they didn’t want to interfere with the federal election in the fall.
“Where did it get them? It got them into a constitutional conundrum in which they do not have a majority,” Crosbie said. “So, I am appealing to the trend, to the tide and the future of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has only just begun.”
With a fired-up but sternly serious speech, Crosbie seemed to re-energize the previously sedate gathering of supporters at the Holiday Inn Express near the airport.
It hadn’t been exactly razzle dazzle as Tory supporters watched the votes roll in with a Liberal minority Thursday evening.
By 9:45 p.m., about 35 people were grouped around a small TV in the hotel lobby.
“Full of rage here, b’ys,” one supporter said, shaking his head.
“Like, what is this? Anger,” said another, pointing at the television screen.
There was a cash bar but most people sipped a single drink, and many got their energy up for Crosbie’s arrival with a cup of free coffee.
But it wasn’t all bleak.
There were shouts of “Hey, hey!” and the room erupted in applause when Crosbie won his seat in the Windsor Lake district.
Earlier in the evening, Crosbie’s campaign manager, Robert Lundrigan, called it an “intense” campaign and said there’ll be a debrief in the coming days to see how things could be improved in the future.
One supporter who was known to The Telegram but spoke on the condition of anonymity said the Tories didn’t have enough campaign pros on board and it was a struggle to get a full slate of volunteers at times.
Since the writ dropped last month, Ball’s Liberals were busy presenting themselves as the steady “onward” choice, while Crosbie’s PCs ran on the promise of “jobs and hope.”
After his byelection win in Windsor Lake eight months ago, Crosbie described himself as “the champion of the people.”
The 65-year-old called his policy platform straightforward and focused on three priorities: lower taxes, affordable energy rates and honest government.
Crosbie spent the last month touring the province in a Tory-blue bus trying to drum up support.
Now, it seems, he’ll be trying to drum up the support of the NDP and independents to take on the Liberals.