‘Anything can happen’
Kennedy welcomes competition; PCS taking nothing for granted
If Jerome Kennedy has learned anything about politics from his first four-year term in office, it is that you can’t predict anything about the outcome of elections.
“I take nothing for granted, nor do we as a party take anything for granted,” Kennedy told The Compass in a pre-election interview on Sept. 21, two days after the PC candidate for Carbonear-Harbour Grace district learned Phil Earle, a retired medical doctor who’s been outspoken on fisheries issues, had come forward to challenge him for his seat as the Liberal candidate for the district.
Referring to the shocking NDP orange surge in Quebec in the last federal election, Kennedy said, “what that taught me is that (in politics) you can’t presume anything, you can’t assume anything. You have to get out there and do the work because you don’t know how the electorate is going to vote.”
At a comfortable 53 per cent in the polls as of last week, Kennedy said, “I feel safe in predicting that we’re going to form government, but what takes place on the ground ( in the campaign) remains to be seen. There are seats that could go either way, and there are surges that can take place.”
Sensing a “general satisfaction” with his record among constituents, Kennedy acknowledges, “one of the disappointments in politics is not being able to solve everyone’s personal issues. There are certain issues we just can’t solve. That’s the downside of politics. The other side is it allows us to do a lot of good work ... on an individual basis.”
The PC candidate stated: “I pride myself in the fact that I feel I’ve treated every community in the district fairly.”
Welcoming Earle as the Liberal candidate, Kennedy said: “ I’m very pleased there’s a candidate and there’s going to be an election (in the district) because it’s important that people have an opportunity to vote.
“ I have a lot of respect for Phil. I know him well. He’s obviously a strong advocate for what he believes in.”
It appears the respect Kennedy expresses for his opponent is mutual.
In an interview later in the day, Earle, 64 told The Compass: “I got the highest respect for him as an individual with integrity. I wish him the best. I really mean it.
“ I ’ m not running against Mr. Kennedy. I’m running for what I think has been missing and what’s wrong in this present government. I’m running for the truth of what I think our people need.”
Describing Kennedy as “a friend and a bright fellow,” Earle said, “ but I have to run to speak up on issues. I’m upset that issues are not being addressed by his government. And hopefully that’s what I can do and make a difference.”
Albeit a federal issue, Earle said he’d like to see seniors get an increase in their monthly income.
“ We have our elderly who can’t heat their homes in winter — they have to go to the mall for heat — that’s wrong!”
Likes Liberal platform
Although Earle is best known for his opinions on the need for a revitalized fishing industry, his No. 1 issue in the campaign is health care.
He mentioned waiting times in emergency rooms, and the months people have to wait to see specialists, sometimes up to a year. Then there is the difficulty of seeing a family doctor and people finding a new family doctor.
“People have to go to the mainland to see specialists — this is the most important thing for all of us.”
He also spoke about the controversy over the development of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. He doesn’t like the way the business plan for the energy deal is structured.
Although Earle has not had any previous party affiliations, it was the Liberal Party’s new policy platform on the fishery that attracted him.
He described it as “a very positive outlook for the fishery to restore and protect our stocks and revitalize the economic vitality of coastal, rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I l ike this forward-looking approach for the fishery that we’ve never had since confederation.” He also likes other issues in the Liberal platform — looking after pensioners and the health care system, and their take on Muskrat Falls.
“ I think the present government has gone astray on many of these issues, and the Liberals have come forward with a plan I agree with.”
A supporter of Danny Williams, who he thinks was “a wonderful pre- mier,” Earle suggested many of the incumbent PC MHAs went in on the former premier’s coattails and are still riding on his popularity, but they’ve become complacent and no longer in touch with the people they were elected to serve.
He said Premier Dunderdale “ has completely ignored the main heritage cultural industry, the fishery, which should be a multi-billion-dollar industry.
“I’m angry, hurt and offended that Mr. Kennedy’s government hasn’t stood up for the people of the sea,” Earle said.” We need opposition to keep ‘ em on their toes and get some of these issues brought forward.”
Earle predicted the PCs will get “considerably less” seats on election day.
Not all the credit
While Jerome Kennedy has gotten the credit for attracting well over $200 million in infrastructure projects to the district in his first term, Earle would not be as quick to give the incumbent MHA all the praise.
“I wouldn’t say he’s done this on his own. I think much of this money has been put in place previously by other governments and MHAs and now it’s coming through on his watch.”
At the district level, Earle suggested work on local roads and bridges has been put off for too long and not enough has been invested in developing the local tourism industry, in a district steeped in history and heritage.
While he realizes he has an uphill battle on his hands, Earle said if he doesn’t win, he would be the first to give his friend, Kennedy, a pat on the back and a handshake after the votes are counted on Oct. 11.
By week’s end Jerome Kennedy wasn’t feeling so lonely on the campaign trail — two other candidates had laced up their running shoes. Red Head Cove native Shawn Hyde will carry the New Democratic Party colours in the Carbonear-Harbour Grace district.The 51-year-old former long term care worker and home care provider, who lives in Topsail, CBS is currently employed as a student assistant with the Eastern School District.
And Kyle Brookings, a 19-year-old high school graduate from Carbonear has decided to run as an independent candidate. Brookings says he’s “tired of seeing the same old kind of politicians running...” and felt it was, “time to bring in some new blood.”
AND THE PITCH — Conception Bay North Bulldogs pitcher Tommy Snow grimaces while delivering a heater to an opposing batter at theMosquito AA Atlantic championships in Upper Island Cove on Sept. 17. The Bulldogs finished third at the four-team event. For story and photo, see Page A9