Lo­cal Lib­er­als ready to form gov­ern­ment

Foote, McDon­ald be­lieved ma­jor­ity was within party’s grasp

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON editor@CB­N­com­pass.ca

For the two Lib­er­als set to rep­re­sent the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia re­gion in the House of Com­mons, last week’s elec­tion re­sult was ex­cit­ing news.

With her party stuck in op­po­si­tion ever since she was first elected fed­er­ally in 2008, Judy Foote like the rest of her Lib­eral col­leagues was left on the out­side look­ing in as a ma­jor­ity Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment made de­ci­sions as it pleased.

But now the ta­bles have turned, and Foote — elected in the new dis­trict of Bon­av­ista-Burin-Trin­ity — will join new­comer Ken McDon­ald from the Avalon rid­ing to serve prime min­is­ter des­ig­nate Justin Trudeau in Ot­tawa.

“I was pretty con­fi­dent we’d get a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment,” said Foote, who was sched­uled to fly to Ot­tawa over the week­end to con­tinue her work as the party whip. “I knew in my heart we’d end up with (at least) a mi­nor­ity, but I can tell you that as the leader went from coast to coast and heard from Cana­di­ans, lis­tened to Cana­di­ans, the re­sponse we got to the pos­i­tive mes­sage that he was send­ing … it be­came more ob­vi­ous on a daily ba­sis that not only would we get a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, but we would likely get a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment.”

McDon­ald, the former mayor of Con­cep­tion Bay South, agrees. As the Lib­eral cam­paign gained trac­tion in the polls in the fi­nal weeks, he felt a ma­jor­ity was be­com­ing more re­al­is­tic.

“I said that in an in­ter­view well back,” McDon­ald told The Com­pass. “At that time, Justin’s num­bers had just started to rise.”

What’s next?

Now with the keys firmly in their party’s pocket to drive with the coun­try’s best in­ter­ests, at­ten­tion turns to what ac­tion the Lib­er­als will take. Foote iden­ti­fies the need to cut taxes for the mid­dle class, re­vamp the Em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance sys­tem, en­gage with the fish­ing industry, rein­vest in in­fras­truc­ture, and make the child tax ben­e­fit non­tax­able as pri­or­ity is­sues. McDon­ald too agrees on the im­por­tance of deal­ing with in­fras­truc­ture in­vest­ments and the fish­ery.

”I’ll use Port de Grave as an ex­am­ple, be­cause I had it said it me,” said McDon­ald. “We have fish­er­men in Port de Grave who fish a lim­ited amount of time be­cause they don’t have the quota. Fish­er­men don’t want to be home sat down and their boat tied on to the wharf for months on end. They want to be fish­ing.”

Cabi­net call­ing?

One of the ear­li­est de­ci­sions the new prime min­is­ter will need to make con­cerns the look of his cabi­net. The Lib­er­als have al­ready com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing the num­ber of min­is­te­rial po­si­tions in Ot­tawa, with Trudeau also promis­ing an even rep­re­sen­ta­tion of male and fe­male cabi­net min­is­ters.

Tak­ing into ac­count her ex­pe­ri­ence po­lit­i­cally as both a fed­eral MP and an MHA in her home prov­ince, Foote ap­pears to have a good chance of sit­ting in cabi­net. Her role as the party whip is an im­por­tant one, and there are only 50 women among the 184 Lib­er­als elected last Mon­day. She also briefly served as the Lib­eral Deputy House Leader un­der Michael Ig­nati­eff.

Asked about her will­ing­ness to take on a role in cabi­net, Foote de­flected the ques­tion some­what to praise the other New­found­land and Labrador MPs. The Lib­er­als took all seven seats in the prov­ince.

“I’ve al­ways ac­cepted the op­por­tu­nity to make a con­tri­bu­tion, how­ever that is and what­ever role that is,” she said. “What­ever Mr. Trudeau de­cides, he has such an incredible group from which to se­lect for his cabi­net, in­clud­ing the mem­bers that have been elected here in New­found­land and Labrador.”

PHOTO BY MELISSA JENK­INS/THE COM­PASS

Ken McDon­ald en­ters the Trip Inn Lounge with his wife Trudy on elec­tion night in Con­cep­tion Bay South. McDon­ald con­vinc­ingly won the Avalon rid­ing for the Lib­er­als with over 50 per cent of the vote.

PHOTO BY PAUL HER­RIDGE/TC ME­DIA

Newly elected Bon­av­ista-Burin-Trin­ity MP Judy Foote is seen here on the phone con­grat­u­lat­ing Sea­mus O’Re­gan, who won for the Lib­er­als in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl. Foote ex­ceeded her ex­pec­ta­tions, tak­ing more than 80 per cent of the vote in her rid­ing.

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