The Liberal resurgence as the alternative party to govern Newfoundland and Labrador continues with the addition of two former New Democrat M.H.A’s. The Liberal caucus now has three popular MHA’s from the metro area, something that eluded them in the last provincial election.
Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore were forced out of the New Democratic caucus, and the party, when their attempt to discuss the leadership of that party was thwarted after a private letter from the NDP caucus to the leader was leaked to the media.
That act of sabotage left the members with no choice but to stand by their principles and sit as independents. After a full sitting of the legislature as independents and months of consultation with constituents, the pair have elected to support the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.
I had the pleasure of working for Dale during the Winter Session. I knew that he was not comfortable in the slightest with the idea of going to the government side. However, I would not have been surprised if he had remained an independent and not run for re-election.
He is a principled guy who really has the best interest of the province at heart. I have known Dale for a long time. If there is someone in the House of Assembly that believes in a left of center ideology it is Dale Kirby. I have always considered him a social democrat, more aptly suited for the Liberal Party than the confines of the holier-than-thou, non pragmatic, stuck in flux New Democrats. He will ensure the Liberal Party does not drift to far to the right as it brings forth it’s 2015 election platform.
While I prefer that MHA’s successfully win a party nomination before joining a caucus other than the one they were elected to serve in, only the most bitter or Orange would consider this political opportunism.
The addition of Kirby and much of the organization he build as a student leader, President of the NDP in this province and as a NDP Education critic will greatly bolster the Liberal Party’s intellectual and organizational prowess.
In particular, the addition of Kirby, Tom Osborne and Paul Lane provide the party with dedicated organizations on the ground in the metro region. This new concentrated beachhead is a strategic gain for the party as it prepares an election preparation plan.
The addition of four new MHA's to the caucus also brings with it much valued financial resources that will no longer be directed to the NDP or PC caucuses.
I am sure that there are some disappointed Liberals as the additions mean fewer opportunities for party hopefuls. By my count there are now six seats in the region that are pretty much spoken for. In addition to the three incumbent MHA’s I doubt that Paul Antle will face any competition for the Liberal nod in St. John’s East, nor will Kathy Bennett in Virginia Waters. Former Liberal MP Siobhan Coady should also clinch the nomination in St. John’s West.
Yes, I know, the nominations will be open and the process will be robust, but the nominations for these six individuals is all but assured.
With six star candidates ready and raring to go , the Liberals are very much a juggernaut in St. John’s going into the 2015 election.