It was a strange night. To the delight and expectation of Kathy Dunderdale, we ended up with a strong PC majority. But the NDP also made a historic breakthrough to win 5 sits – 3 of which were new seats in St. John’s wrestled away from the Tories. Yet none of this was to the demise of the Liberals, who surpassed public expectations by making a gain of 2 seats to maintain official opposition status and bring their total to 6. Everybody wins!
Of course, there were disappointments for each of the parties as well. The PCs have lost two capable ministers in Shawn Skinner and Patty Pottle; the NDP did not become the official opposition; and Liberal leader Kevin Aylward did not win his own seat. As a result, the Liberals will likely again have to appoint an interim leader and start the process towards finding a new leader.
Newfoundlanders emerged the big winners Tuesday night. They have rewarded a government for their competent work, but at the same time have sent in a much stronger and multi-party opposition to keep them in check for the next four years.
Some additional thoughts about the night:
- Ironically the city of St. John’s – booming in large part due to the oil industry – has elected 3 MHAs from a party that had pledged to apply a new tax to that industry and to even attempt to modify existing contracts to do so. This is to the chagrin of the PC party, as the capital city has always been considered strong Tory-country.
- Meanwhile the Liberal showing in St. John’s was nothing less than dismal. The party’s 8-year primary focus on rural Newfoundland has rewarded them with just 6% of the popular vote in the most populous region of the province. The Liberals have to find a way back into St. John’s, before the NDP can get a grip on rural Newfoundland, if the party wants to remain relevant past 2015.
- The PC party now sees itself somewhat sandwiched between NDP strength on the east coast, and Liberal strength on the West coast. All of the Liberal victories took place west of Grand Falls. It’s a big sandwich though.
How will all of this play out in the House of Assembly? Well we’re going to have to wait until 2012 to figure that one out. Premier Dunderdale has already said she is not going to call the legislature back into session until the Spring of 2012.