Sam is the man

Car­bon­ear mayor, fish­er­man re­turns rid­ing to Lib­eral fold

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

The dis­trict of Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace has cho­sen its new MHA, but Lib­eral Sam Slade is by no means new to the po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

Slade had planned to re­sign Mon­day, Dec. 2 as mayor of Car­bon­ear, bring­ing an end to a 20-year ca­reer in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics, and trig­ger­ing another by­elec­tion, this time at the mu­nic­i­pal level (see re­lated story, Page A11).

Since the Nov. 26 by­elec­tion, Slade has been hit­ting the pave­ment, ad­dress­ing is­sues for the res­i­dents of the area and tak­ing count­less phone calls from con­stituents.

On Wed­nes­day, Nov. 27, Slade went to a el­derly res­i­dent’s home in Har­bour Grace with a car­pen­ter to as­sess the dam­age that he had with his roof. This was the first act he told The Com­pass he would be tak­ing care of af­ter he won. He stuck to his word.

Af­ter his win, Slade also promised to hold the gov­ern­ing PCs ac­count­able for all the prom­ises made, in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of a new Har­bour Grace sta­dium.

This full- time po­si­tion as an MHA will be quite dif­fer­ent from his for­mer oc­cu­pa­tion as a life-long fish­er­man, but Slade said he is up to the chal­lenge.

Lo­cal re­sponse

Pre­lim­i­nary re­sults were be­ing re­vealed on the Elec­tions New- found­land and Labrador web­site live on the night of Tues­day, Nov. 26.

In what was hyped to be a close race be­tween the two ri­val par­ties be­gan with PC can­di­date Jack Har­ring­ton hold­ing the lead, while of­fi­cial polling re­sults were re­leased. But the 40-plus sup­port­ers that packed Slade’s Wa­ter Street head­quar­ters in his home­town stayed pos­i­tive. With 26 of 41 polls re­ported, the two com­peti­tors were tied at 1,435 votes apiece.

The Lib­eral diehards at Slade’s head­quar­ters waited im­pa­tiently, and they were soon re­warded with some very pos­i­tive num­bers as Slade’s lead grew as each poll re­sult came in.

The at­mos­phere turned to one of ju­bi­la­tion when it be­came clear that

“I’m just ab­so­lutely de­lighted with the party, de­lighted to be MHA for the dis­trict and I look for­ward to work­ing for the peo­ple.

— Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace

MHA Sam Slade

Slade had won.

While wait­ing for Slade to ar­rive, his group of sup­port­ers grew, and flooded the side­walk in front of the build­ing, over­flow­ing onto the street.

“Sammy, Sammy,” a chant be­gan as Slade rolled up in his red pickup truck, with Lib­eral leader Dwight Ball in the pas­sen­ger seat.

“I’m just ab­so­lutely de­lighted with the party, de­lighted to be MHA for the dis­trict and I look for­ward to work­ing for the peo­ple,” Slade ex­claimed.

On the pro­vin­cial scene

This was a big vic­tory for Slade and the Lib­eral party.

Slade’s win and Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date Jack Har­ring­ton’s loss have al­ready gar­nered sig­nif­i­cant at­ten­tion provincewide, with some say­ing it could be a sign of things to come as the prov­ince pre­pares to go to the polls in 2015.

The by­elec­tion saw the Tory strong­hold — won eas­ily by for­mer MHA Jerome Kennedy in 2007 and 2011 — re­turned to the Lib­er­als.

In the pre­vi­ous two elec­tions, the PCs won the seat with a whop­ping 75 per cent of the vote, while the Lib­er­als jumped from 16 per cent in 2011 to 50 per cent in 2013. Prior to 2007, the area had been rep­re­sented for many years by Lib­er­als Ge­orge Sweeney and Art Reid.

Slade’s win couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time for the Lib­er­als. With the party’s pop­u­lar­ity in­creas­ing, and the pop­u­lar­ity of the PC party and its leader, Kathy Dun­derdale, de­creas­ing, this by­elec­tion was be­ing looked at by many as the start of a po­lit­i­cal shift of power.

Al­though the 2011 gen­eral elec­tion demon­strated a record re­sult for the NDP party provincewide, the re­sults in the area were less than ideal for party mem­bers

Sud­brink re­ceived 7.4 per cent of the vote, while in 2011 the NDP can­di­date re­ceived 8.5 per cent.

Party sup­port

On Thurs­day, Nov. 28, Slade at­tended his first meet­ing in the House of As­sem­bly as an ob­server in the gallery. On Fri­day, the of­fi­cial elec­tion re­sults were avail­able, con­firm­ing Slade’s vic­tory. He is likely to be sworn in this week.

Lib­eral leader Dwight Ball — who was on hand for Slade’s win last Tues­day — was ex­cited about the re­sults and happy to wel­come Slade to the Lib­eral cau­cus.

“The peo­ple of the dis­trict of Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace voted for change and it is a great vic­tory for the res­i­dents, as well as for the en­tire op­po­si­tion cau­cus and our new MHA Sam Slade,” Ball said in a news re­lease.

“Sam will be a great as­set to the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion cau­cus with his years of ex­pe­ri­ence. I am thrilled to wel­come Sam to the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion and look for­ward to work­ing with him to best rep­re­sent the peo­ple of the dis­trict.”

Mean­while, Pre­mier Dun­derdale said that de­spite the loss, she’s still con­fi­dent she’s got the sup­port of her party.

“I’ve had tremen­dous sup­port from the cau­cus, par­tic­u­larly all through the cam­paign, again last night and this morn­ing,” she told TC Me­dia last week. “I’ve had won­der­ful mes­sages from party mem­bers from right across the prov­ince — very pos­i­tive, very sup­port­ive.”

Dun­derdale pointed out that the gov­ern­ment has spent an a lot of money in Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace since 2007.

“We’ve in­vested hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in that dis­trict, so the de­mands of the dis­trict were met,” she said. “This was a dis­trict that was largely ig­nored when it had Lib­eral rep­re­sen­ta­tion, so there was a great deficit in in­fra­struc­ture.”

Photo By Melissa Jenk­ins/Spe­cial to The Com­pass

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