Contrasting candidates in Carbonear-Harbour Grace
Voters will elect a new MHA on Nov. 26
Voters in the provincial district of Carbonear-Harbour Grace will have three very distinct choices on the ballot when they head to the polls for a Nov. 26 byelection.
Jack Harrington, a former school psychologist and, most recently, assistant to former MHA Jerome Kennedy, will look to hold onto the seat for the governing Progressive Conservatives.
Sam Slade, a fish harvester and longtime municipal leader in the Town of Carbonear, is hoping to return to district to the Liberal fold.
And finally, the NDP candidate is Charlene Sudbrink, a Freshwater resident who works at the local liquor store and is well-known for her tal- ents as a potter.
Observers are saying the race is too close the call, with the Liberals and PCs waging a very intense campaign to win the hearts and minds of voters. The NDP has never faired well in elections in the district, and Sudbrink is thought to be waging an uphill battle.
In the 2011 provincial election, Kennedy garnered more than 76 per cent of the vote, while the Liberal candidate (Philip Earle) captured less than 15 per cent. The NDP (Shawn Hyde) came in third with just over eight per cent.
But the political landscape has changed dramatically since that time, with the political fortunes of all three parties heading in opposite directions.
The Liberals held the seat for more than a decade prior to Kennedy’s arrival on the political scene in 2007.
All three candidates have been on the campaign trail, Harrington and Slade since the announcement of the byelection Nov. 4, and Sudbrink since confirming her candidacy on Nov. 9.
Different issues have already been discussed, and candidates told The Compass some of the most prominent ones.
“I have heard a lot of people talk about problems they are having with healthcare,” Slade said. “Some people feel like they’ve been neglected over the years.”
Another issue Slade has heard is the lack of capital works funding. He said residents feel they should receive a share of oil revenues to put back into the infrastructure of each community and to complete ongoing projects. And Slade agrees.
Sudbrink’s campaign has taken her to personal care homes, where a strong message she has heard there is the lack of food choices.
“I was informed by a resident if they do not like what is offered for lunch, they will get offered a can of beans or a sandwich,” she explained. “It’s their home, and they would like to have more healthy options.”
Another concern she came across was the cost of personal care or long-term care homes, saying some people feel it’s unfair they worked all their lives and pay to live in these facilities, while others are subsidized.
“Seniors built our community, they should be able to live in dignity with affordable housing and health care,” Sudbrink said.
While the NDP and Liberal candidates are hearing concerns, Harrington said he is hearing positive comments about the current government
“I am getting positive feedback and encouragement at the door,” he wrote in an email to The Compass. “People are feeling this government has given them back a sense of pride as a result of our improved economic situation …”
Slade, a lifelone Liberal, has been in the political ring for two decades. He said he would continue the important work he has done with Carbonear by expanding his focus to include the entire district.
“I’ve represented and stood for the people of Car- bonear every day,” Slade explained. “The people of the district are my first priority, and everything else is second.”
Slade also said he would work hard to bring everything he can to the district.
“I want to represent the people in a fair and equal manner,” he added. “It is important that every person can voice any issue and know I will be there to hear it.”
Sudbrink strongly supports the NDP platform, including the early start children’s program, full-day kindergarten and socioeconomic concerns.
“There is such a gap between the rich and the poor,” Sudbrink explained. “I don’t believe everyone should have a free ride, but just because someone makes a lower wage doesn’t mean we should disregard their quality of life.”
Harrington has acknowledged a lot of money — more than $200 million — has been invested in the district by the party.
“I recognize that, while a lot of money has been brought to the district, especially in the last five years, much more needs to be done.”
Parties in the public eye
This byelection comes at an interesting time — all parties have been in the limelight recently for different reasons.
The Liberals were scheduled to select a new leader over the weekend, and have been surging in public opinion polls as of late, while the NDP caucus has splintered over a leadership dispute, with two members recently leaving to sit as independents.
Meanwhile, the PCs have been floundering in the polls, and Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s popularity has plummeted, but continues to receive wholehearted support from her caucus.
There’s plenty to consider as voters decide who will get their endorsement on Nov. 26.