Sam is the man
Carbonear mayor, fisherman returns riding to Liberal fold
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.
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.
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.”