The Cartwright L’Anse Au Clair
By-Election was supposed to have been a yawn. Given the Tory record in the
District, you could hardly blame Dunderdale for calling it as soon as she
secured a sacrificial lamb to run for the P.C Party and arranged to be out of
Town, when the ballots were counted.
affair. It almost was. That the Liberals won, (53.5% of the vote),
was a forgone conclusion. But, these
pesky NDPers won almost 33% of the vote.
While one should not take anything away from the Liberal’s victory, it
would be a serious oversight if one failed to acknowledge the importance of the
NDP support, at this time.
the governing Party perceives it has a “shot” at winning a riding, held by an
Opposition Party, the cash register is flung open and the Party’s financial,
organizational and PR capacity is liberally made accessible in the pursuit. The Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair by-election was
not one of those contests. This was a
by-election in which only the Liberals could lose face.
In 2003 General Election, Liberal
Yvonne Jones captured 59.8% of the vote; in 2007 she won 73%, in 2011 it was
71.1%. Yvonne’s overwhelming personal support did not make either race a real contest.
Dennis Normore, of the P.C.’s (also the current Tory candidate) took 31.8% of
the vote in 2003; slightly less in 2007 and in 2011 a different P.C. candidate
won a mere 26.8% of the votes cast. For the Tories, this was not friendly
Candidate in 2011, but garnered only 2.5% of the vote.
impress this solidly Liberal riding.
Jones and Danny Dumaresque duked it out, the Tories barely registered a
presence in the District, coming up with a mere 45 votes.
(pre-redistribution) occurred in 1979 when Peckford mania was sweeping the
possibility that the District could be taken, Peckford surprised his Campaign
Manager and Campaign Staff, including this scribe, with the announcement that
he would fly into the District personally, within a day or so of the Writ
having been dropped. At that time of
year, it was a concern that if the weather turned bad, the Chief Campaigner might
find himself marooned in fog (or worse), and unable to fly back out. But,
Peckford knew that no Premier, including Smallwood, had visited the District up
to that time. He hoped his gamble might pay off with a Tory win, given how well
he was connecting with rural voters.
escaping any delays feared by Party organizers; his Candidate, in that
Election, took 44.46% of ballots cast; the best Tory vote ever, in the post-Confederation
era. Subsequent election results, for
the Tories, paled in comparison.
au Clair and have owned it forever. Tonight’s win confirms it still does.
Riding, placing the Liberal’s Official Opposition status, in the House of
Assembly, in jeopardy. That was never
going to happen. But, don’t think the NDP a loser in this campaign.
to find any support in southern Labrador (in the district then known as Eagle
River); a local NDPer, named Claude Rumbolt, chalked up 22.7% of the vote.
After that election, the Party as much as disappeared.
the NDP sent in several of its best names to campaign. Any success at all, would have outdone the paltry
44 votes it received in the 2011 Election.
But, Lorraine Michael does not have to claim some pseudo victory. After literally being absent, the NDP suddenly
goes in and takes 32.9% of the vote! That result cannot be discounted.
the NDP and Michael, to first place, in the contest of Public Opinion Polls,
suggests that the Tory vote in rural Newfoundland is collapsing; its support, in
the St. John’s area, having already dissipated.
Au Clair by-election is hard evidence of this trend. 13.6% is much less than one-half of the
support the Tories could typically claim.
It’s a disastrous number for the P.C.’s, even given its poor history in
The Liberals may be celebrating, but
the message of this by-election result will likely not be lost on Dwight Ball.
are under the most severe stress; the NDP are eating their lunch.
comfort from Christy Clark’s big come back in B.C. But, she can always hope.