Local Liberals ready to form government
Foote, McDonald believed majority was within party’s grasp
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.