Big names vie for Liberal nod
Sam Slade and Jamie Korab to seek nomination in upcoming byelection
A man who harvests from the sea and another who sweeps granite rocks into the “house” will square off to determine who will represent the Liberal Party in an upcoming byelection in the provincial district of Carbonear-Harbour Grace.
Carbonear mayor and fisherman Sam Slade confirmed during a news conference on Thursday, Oct. 10 that he will seek the nomination, setting up a contest with Olympic curling gold medallist Jamie Korab, who made his intentions known on Oct. 7.
Up to Friday, the party had not issued a call for nominations, so it’s possible the field of Liberal contenders could grow.
The local political scene stirred to life earlier this month following the resignation of high profile MHA and cabinet minister Jerome Kennedy, who left office to return to the practice of law.
Only one contender — former Kennedy assistant Jack W. Harrington — stepped forward for the Conservatives, and his candidacy was confirmed on Thursday.
There has been plenty more drama in the Liberal camp, beginning with an announcement by recently deposed Harbour Grace mayor Don Coombs. He indicated he would seek the Liberal nomination, but then withdrew after Slade indicated he would join the race. Coombs has offered his support to Slade.
That has set the stage for a showdown between Slade, the very popular mayor of Carbonear, and Korab, a Harbour Grace native who shot to national fame after winning gold at the 2006 winter Olympics.
Slade made his intentions known just days after being sworn in for a new term as mayor, having handily defeated his two challengers in the race for the top elected post in the town.
He was joined by some 40 supporters Thursday at the Carbonear fire hall.
“It’s about the people,” said Slade, who wore a bright red jacket, leaving no question about his strong leanings toward the Liberal Party. “It’s always been about the people.” He repeated this statement several times, emphasizing he will run a clean campaign, “the same way I always have.”
Slade has been a municipal leader in the town of some 4,700 people for the past 20 years, serving as mayor for the last eight.
He expressed confidence the province will elect a Liberal government in 2015, one as “red as my coat.”
Slade said he has spoken with members of the district who believe they have fallen through the cracks of the provincial system, especially health care. He relayed a story of a family who has been denied coverage for medication that has been deemed necessary and called it “unfair.”
“Kathy Dunderdale, please, please, please make it about the people,” Slade exclaimed. “This government has to start investing its oil revenue in other areas, and not just in Muskrat Falls.”
Korab resides in St. John’s, and has worked in real estate since 2012.
The fact he is a non-resident is an issue with some voters, but he emphasized that his connection to the district remains strong. He is a regular visitor and volunteer with organizations that serve the area, including the Trinity Conception Placentia Health Foundation, the Give the Gift of Life committee and the Kids Eat Smart Foundation.
In an email exchange with The Compass, Korab said he has watched the Liberal party rebuild over the past few months and become a “real contender” for next election.
“I do not want to watch that rebuilding from the sidelines,” he wrote.
When asked what qualifies him for the job, Korab said he “knows how to work on a team to achieve success. But more importantly, I know how to put together a plan and execute (it).”
A byelection is expected to be called after a new Liberal leader is chosen next month.