Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It is by-election day in the Straits - White Bay North. Locals are choosing a replacement for former cabinet minister Trevor Taylor, who resigned from Cabinet and the House of Assembly last month.

The polls are open and all three parties are getting their identified vote out to the polls. This will be an election where organization will be key to the outcome. From what I understand all three parties feel like there is an opportunity for a win in this by-election.

Predictions are a tough racket. They are even harder to make when you are not on the ground. I think the Liberals have a great candidate, and god knows we could use a stronger opposition in the House of Assembly.

Since confederation this seat has traditionally been one of the reddest seats on the island. That changed in 2001 when the former federal NDP candidate, and local fisherman Trevor Taylor, ran as a Progressive Conservative in a by-election that was triggered by the departure of Premier Brian Tobin. It was one of two by-election wins in Liberal strongholds on the Northern Peninsula that night for the then-opposition Tories, as Wally Young took the St. Barbe seat. The wins were significant for the tories and provided momentum which has not subsided even to this day.

I remember those by-elections well. If someone had the time to dig up some of the media articles related to that campaign you will find some similar themes to this current by-election. The government was on top of the polls and governemnt was spending money on projects all over the peninsula trying to buy the vote. You could not go to a community in either seat, and not trip over a cabinet minister, MHA or a liberal staffer. Money was pouring out of Municipal and Provincial Affairs as fast as it could be printed! Surely the governing liberals could not lose in the Straits.  They did, and the rest is history.

In fairness, I should provide some perspective. The Liberal leader at the time was interim Premier Beaton Tulk and Danny Williams had announced he was seeking the Progressive Conservative leadership. The results were a bad omen of the times to come for the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Back to predictions. Yes we need a stronger opposition but what is in it for the Straits - White Bay North to switch sides? The government is strong and enjoys vast public support. Voters in St. Anthony and the White Bay area have been served well. Even the Liberal candidate's business has benefited from the William's Government's Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Fund. The Flowers Cove issue has been addressed. There is still the issue with school closures, but on the whole this election has served the interests of the district well.

Progressive Conservative Rick Pelly is Trevor Taylor's former executive assistant. He can simply pick up where he left off when his boss departed. Business as usual. Without the fate of the government in balance, my money is on the majority of the 6,783 eligible voters who bother to vote sticking to the government side. Who could blame them.


Mark said...

"Voters in St. Anthony and the White Bay area have been served well."
This week, yes. By the Premier's own admission they've been better served while the seat was vacant than they were when it was full.

Anonymous said...

I can think of 137 million reasons why they were served better under the conservative government under Taylors representation.

Mark said...

But seriously - what does it mean to be "served well"?

Peter L. Whittle said...


It seems the by-election made all of the local problems like loosing x-ray services and diminished hours at clinics go away.

No byelection and they would have been ignored. Wonderful stuff hey.

Do you recognize the picture?

WJM said...

Anonymous 11:29:

1) "Better" is a comparitive adjective. You are saying they were "served better" under the Taylor Tories.

"Served better"... than what?

2) What is the significance of the figure 137 million, and how was it arrived at?

WJM said...

No byelection and they would have been ignored. Wonderful stuff hey.

Then the solution for any MHA looking to solve a problem like Danny Williams is simple.


Oh, brilliant! The verification word is "Copoot"!

Mark said...

But being on the 'government side' can't mean that you'll be no worse than 44th out of 48th when the gravy train rolls around. If that were true, then being on the other side would mean being no better than 45th, adn as WJM points out, being on no side would temporarily put you at the top of the list. Furthermore, it would make a liar out of the man who's on the radio every day promising 'no retribution' for voting something other than PC.
Right-thinking people abhorred this kind of logic when the Liberals were in office. And it's only gotten worse.
And it will keep getting worse as long as people who should know better equate this kind of behaviour with 'service'.

Peter L. Whittle said...


No argument from this scribe!

But as the photo says "Government Side" is where it is at. Nice little rod we helped project for our own asses.

Just like how in the Newfoundland the governing party sits on the left side of the speaker of the House of Assembly as opposed to the traditional right side of the speaker as is the case in other Westminster Parliaments.

In the colonial building the fireplaces were located on the left side. The opposition has sat in the cold in this province since the 1850's.

Greg said...

By "served well" Peter means the best thing Trevor Taylor did for his district was resign. No resignation, no health care.

Irony is never dead in politics.

...and there are at least 1 (maybe 3 depending on the health of a couple of Tory MHAs) by-elections to come.

By-elections are to democracy what holding the only gun at the table is to poker.

Here is a little more irony, right now the people of the district would be better served with an opposition member because a new Tory MHA just becomes another silent bobble head on the back benches.

The best thing that any rural TORY MHA could do for his district is to resign. ...that is if doing the best thing for his district was his purpose of them to vote for him in the first place.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Thanks Greg. I have to work on my satire because few people seem to get it!

1. not meant to be taken seriously or literally: a facetious remark.
2. amusing; humorous.
3. lacking serious intent; concerned with something nonessential, amusing, or frivolous: a facetious person.

Mark said...

Who's "we"?

Edward G. Hollett said...

An interesting enough thread but the full context of 2001 would have been nicer.

The two by-elections were precipitated by departures of politicians for other things. In the Straits, Tobin had packed it in the previous October to fly back to Ottawa.

Meanwhile, Williams was the de facto leader in the opposition and the party was flush with cash at least some of it (we may never know exactly how much) came from criminal activity, as it turned out. There was a decent enough organization and lots of motivation. Not exactly the same thing at all, is it?

To pick up Mark's point though, I am struck by your judgement Peter that the district has been well served. That's certainly the Tory campaign line but evidently some of the people actually in the district have different views, rightly or wrongly.

And at no point have you addrssed Mark's observation that logically being on the government side is an argument that doesn't match up in this case. There is no relative advantage to being on one side or other.

Greg got it. Then again, maybe your humour just doesn't come across in print.

All in all it will be an interesting night.

Mark said...

Wally, the comments by Anonymous (11:29) make perfect sense if they're coming from, say, Tom Rideout.