Con­trast­ing can­di­dates in Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace

Vot­ers will elect a new MHA on Nov. 26

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

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.

Cam­paign trail

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 …”

Of­fer­ings

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.

Char­lene Sud­brink

Jack Har­ring­ton

Sam Slade

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