By­elec­tion a sign PCs ap­proach­ing ex­piry date

The Compass - - OPINION -

The by­elec­tion re­sult in Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace of Nov. 26 is one that will be de­bated for a long time to come. Does this re­sult spell the end of a decade-plus of Tory rule in this prov­ince, or is this a bump in the road that ev­ery party faces dur­ing their time in of­fice?

A lot of peo­ple will tell you it’s the for­mer, that the PCs are ap­proach­ing their ex­piry date, that the Lib­er­als are on the up­swing here in the prov­ince and this vic­tory proves it.

Me? I think it’s the lat­ter. I think what peo­ple are not re­al­iz­ing is that this is not a break­through for the Lib­er­als by any stretch. This seat was theirs for years. They won the seat dur­ing the PC land­slide of 2003 by a de­cent mar­gin and in for­mer pre­mier Brian Peck­ford’s first elec­tion of 1979 they won the old Car­bon­ear seat by a com­fort­able mar­gin, and came close to win­ning the old Har­bour Grace seat as well. Add the fact that the Lib­eral can­di­date there — Sam Slade — is a pop­u­lar mayor in that town and you can see why this had Lib­eral vic­tory marked all over it.

Still, what this by­elec­tion re­sult proves is that the PCs have to take a look at what they’re do­ing and how they can get their mes­sage across bet­ter to the peo­ple of the prov­ince. The Lib­er­als, while hav­ing ev­ery right to be happy they won the seat, have to re­al­ize that un­til they can win the true swing seats back like Trin­ity-Bay De Verde, Burin Pla­cen­tia West, Terra Nova, Hum­ber West or Con­cep­tion Bay East-Bell Is­land, or if they can do like the PCs did and steal a tra­di­tional PC seat like Baie Verte-Springdale, Bon­av­ista South, Cape St. Fran­cis, Kil­bride or Fer­ry­land, the way the PCs won Bon­av­ista North or the Straits-White Bay North in the leadup to the 2003 gen­eral elec­tion, then this by­elec­tion win was all for naught. Peo­ple will for­get that the PCs won St. John’s West in a 1997 by­elec­tion and in the elec­tion of two years later, didn’t win back gov­ern­ment.

Yes, the polls don’t look good for the PCs right now but there’s still two years to go and what hap­pened in the by­elec­tion in Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace shouldn’t be in­dica­tive of what hap­pens in the 2015 gen­eral elec­tion.

— Tony Ducey writes from French­men’s Cove

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