Siz­ing up Har­bour GracePort de Grave

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

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With a Lib­eral vic­tory con­sid­ered a likely out­come — if not en­tirely a sure thing — some vot­ers will look to en­sure their dis­trict has a voice in­side gov­ern­ment.

ith Lib­eral and Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­dates con­firmed, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the po­lit­i­cal bat­tle un­folds in the new Har­bour Grace-Port de Grave dis­trict.

PC Glenn Littlejohn and Lib­eral Pam Par­sons are two strong can­di­dates who will no doubt at­tract the vast ma­jor­ity of votes on elec­tion day Nov. 30. The NDP did not have a can­di­date in place as of The Com­pass’ dead­line, and the party his­tor­i­cally has not at­tracted much sup­port in the dis­trict.

The Lib­er­als held that seat in the House of Assem­bly for 26 years be­fore Littlejohn man­aged to com­fort­ably claim the dis­trict for the PCs in 2011. He al­most won in the 2007 gen­eral elec­tion as well, trail­ing Lib­eral Roland But­ler by less than 300 votes when all was said and done.

Litt lejohn did well in the 2011 vote, but re­pro­duc­ing the mar­gin of vic­tory he en­joyed that year — fin­ish­ing over 1,600 votes ahead of the Lib­eral can­di­date — might be a stretch.

Since Kathy Dun­derdale took over as premier in 2010, the PC party’s for­tunes have fallen on hard times. On the flip­side, the resur­gent Lib­er­als made sub­stan­tial gains, win­ning seven con­sec­u­tive by­elec­tions since the last gen­eral elec­tion.

Party mo­men­tum aside, Littlejohn has a few things work­ing in his favour. With the ad­di­tion of Har­bour Grace to the dis­trict, Littlejohn will get to cam­paign in a com­mu­nity the PCs have treated very well in re­cent years.

Work is mov­ing along steadily to build the new sta­dium, and the Adult Ad­dic­tions Treat­ment Cen­tre should be open this fall. Premier Paul Davis was in Har­bour Grace ear­lier this year to put on a show about the sta­dium, and Littlejohn was there too. In the 2013 by­elec­tion, PC can­di­date Jack Har­ring­ton at­tracted more votes in the com­mu­ni­ties now merg­ing with Port de Grave (1,001 to 736) than the Lib­eral can­di­date, cur­rent Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Sam Slade.

Par­sons, a for­mer jour­nal­ist with a strong public pro­file through her work with NTV and CBC, has been on the cam­paign trail for over a year. She’s been shak­ing plenty of hands and mak­ing con­nec­tions in the leadup to the fall elec­tion. Par­sons has vol­un­teered with the Lib­er­als on mul­ti­ple by­elec­tion cam­paigns and at this point can be con­sid­ered a party in­sider.

With a Lib­eral vic­tory con­sid­ered a likely out­come — if not en­tirely a sure thing — some vot­ers will look to en­sure their dis­trict has a voice in­side gov­ern­ment.

Although some money has been spent on the pro­ject to re­place the ag­ing Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary, sev­eral town coun­cil mem­bers in Bay Roberts have ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with how slowly that process is mov­ing along. It’s also not un­heard of to hear the oc­ca­sional gripe from coun­cil mem­bers about Car­bon­ear man­ag­ing to get a new school and Har­bour Grace get­ting funds to build the sta­dium.

De­spite the fact sev­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters have left pol­i­tics since the last gen­eral elec­tion, Littlejohn has not found his way into cab­i­net (he’s presently deputy speaker and chair of com­mit­tees). This might leave some to doubt his abil­ity to in­flu­ence gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions.

But as a for­mer mayor of Bay Roberts, you’d be hard pressed to sug­gest Littlejohn is not an ad­vo­cate for the big­gest town in his cur­rent dis­trict. Since be­com­ing premier last year, Paul Davis has joined Littlejohn at mul­ti­ple events in the MHA’s dis­trict. That would ap­pear to sug­gest he has the premier’s ear.

Littlejohn no doubt has plenty of sup­port­ers will­ing to stick with him this time around. Par­sons will hope those who used to sup­port Lib­er­als like But­ler and for­mer MHA John Ef­ford will come back to the fold. It’ll be a dis­trict to watch on elec­tion night.

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