Bring on the election
It’s been more than 60 years since former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill made this famous statement in the House of Commons, and many believe his words are as relevant today as they were in 1947.
Indeed, with a provincial general election less than four months away, and having just recently suffered through an unnecessary federal election, we need very little reminding that we live in a democratic society.
That is especially so these days for the voters who live in the provincial electoral district of Port de Grave, with its roughly 12,000 citizens.
There’s been plenty to keep even the most halfhearted political observer interested in recent months, and it’s shaping up to get even more compelling — some might say entertaining — in the coming weeks as we edge closer to the Oct. 11 provincial election.
It all started with the announcement some months ago by current Liberal MHA Roland Butler that he is retiring at the end of his current term. The news was not entirely surprising, considering Butler’s long history in politics, but it certainly caught the attention of political partisans of every shape, size and allegiance.
As a result, there’s seemingly more interest than ever in determining who will be the area’s next Member of the House of Assembly.
Hundreds of Liberals recently took part in a very spirited nomination process, with Leanne Hussey, an under-30 university graduate residing in Shearstown, defeating longtime Liberal organizer Ross Petten of Port de Grave.
Hussey has been very active in the Liberal party, is well-educated, personable and energetic. It’s a sure bet that Liberal party organizers are enthused about her entrance into the race. However, Petten’s petulant comments following the vote may indicate a rift in the party, though it remains to be seen whether this will impact Hussey’s chances of replacing Butler.
Still, it’s a subplot worth keeping in mind when the votes are counted on election night.
On the other side of the political spectrum, there seems to be a very vigorous resurgence of the Progressive Conservatives, a party that has been on the outside looking in for much of the past six decades. In fact, Port de Grave was one of only five districts in the province that did not elect a PC MHA in 2007.
A Tory upswing
Four people — Dale Decker, Glenn Littlejohn, Betty Moore and Junior Taylor — have publicly confirmed they want to be the PC candidate and will seek the nomination. There’s even talk of a fifth, and possibly a sixth nominee.
Political watchers in the district would be hardpressed to find such a scenario in recent times. It’s been a decade since there was even a fight over the PC nomination in the district, and that battle featured just two contenders — Ed Neil and Doug Moores.
And at last week’s annual general meeting of the district PC association, sources say some 50 people were in attendance. Again, a jumbo-sized crowd when compared to previous meetings.
It appears the stage is being set for a fascinating campaign, one that political junkies will enjoy immensely.
We’re sorry to say the same can’t be said for other districts in our region, where high-powerered PC cabinet ministers appear to have a lock on Harbour Main ( Tom Hedderson), Carbonear-Harbour Grace ( Jerome Kennedy) and Trinity-Bay de Verde (Charlene Johnson). But expect some intrigue in Bellevue, where incumbent Tory backbencher Calvin Peach is facing what some are saying is a credible challenge from NDP candidate Gabe Ryan, a teacher at Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown. Traditionally, Bellevue has elected Liberals, but the party has yet to nominate a candidate in the district.
Let the fun begin.