Heartbreak for Liberals as Grit vote collapses
Newfoundland and Labrador's Liberals were overwhelmed Tuesday night, as a Tory wave of support claimed districts that had long been in the Grit camp.
The Liberals were elected in justthree districts, with Liberal Leader Gerry Reid defeated in his own seat of the Isles of Notre Dame.
"Folks, listen, we may be down, but we're not out,"Reid told supporters Tuesday night in Summerford.
Reid, who saidhe has not decided whetherto resign as party leader, lauded his team for fighting an election campaign they knew they would lose.
"It didn't come as any surprise to any of us," Reid told heartbroken Liberal supporters, referring to polling results, whichfor two years showed overwhelming support for Progressive Conservative Leader Danny Williams.
Reid, whoappeared almost relieved as he addressed campaign workers Tuesday night, became Liberal leader in May 2006, only a few months after he publicly said he had no current interest in the job.
The Liberals' vote all but collapsed in many areas. In the St. John's region, for instance, the party's candidates earned only 11 per cent of the vote.
Overall, the party earned 22 per cent of the total vote, far below its usual base.
Reid chose to emphasize rural issues during the campaign, but the party was outgunned in rural districts by the surging PCs.
Just over half of Liberal incumbents in vote
The party entered the three-week campaign having held11 seats,although the majority of the caucus had decided to retire.
Eddie Joyce, the incumbent in Bay of Islands district, was also defeated, losing by 372 votes to Tory Terry Loder.
In nearby Humber Valley, Dwight Ball, who narrowly won a byelection therelast winter, was defeated in a rematch against PC Darryl Kelly.
Reidhad beenin a tight race with Tory Derrick Dalley in the Isles of Notre Dame.
Yvonne Jones, an 11-year veteran of the southern Labrador district of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, was among the first candidates to be declared elected by the CBC decision desk.
Kelvin Parsons, who has represented Burgeo-La Poile since 1996, was re-elected by a comfortable margin.
Roland Butler was the last of the Liberals to be declared elected, narrowly winning in the Grit stronghold of Port de Grave.
The Liberals have never had so smalla caucus. In 1982, when Brian Peckford led the Toriestoa landslide, the party was cut down to a caucus of eight seats.
The last time an Opposition caucus was limited to three members was in 1966, when three PCs squared off against a Joey Smallwood majority of 39 members.