Liberal byelection win part of province-wide trend: Dwight Ball

Liberal Opposition Leader Dwight Ball says Scott Reid's triumph in the district of St. George's-Stephenville East is indicative of a provincewide political trend.
Scenes from Tuesday night's byelection in St. George's-Stephenville East 6:26

Scott Reid's triumph in the St. George's-Stephenville East byelection on Tuesday night brings the size of the Opposition Liberal caucus to 13, more than double its size after the 2011 election. 

It's also the fourth straight time that the Liberals have won a byelection during the current term. Apart from holding the Labrador district of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, the Liberals won three other seats, all of them the turf of key members of the Tory government. 

Opposition Leader Dwight Ball, who celebrated Reid's victory at Liberal headquarters Tuesday night, said he was delighted with a result he says represents a province-wide trend. 

"It feels real good, as you can see [with] the energy and enthusiasm in this room," Ball told reporters. 

"It's not just this district. We've tested this four times now, and it's come through for us," he said.

Reid, a university instructor and former Liberal aide, said Tuesday night he was "humbled" to receive the majority of votes cast, but was conscious through the campaign not to rely heavily on poll results that placed the Liberals well ahead of the governing Tories. 

"That was something that we had to be cautious of, to make sure that we didn't take anything for granted in this race," he said. 

Elections Newfoundland and Labrador reported that Reid received 2,211 votes, well ahead of runner-up PC candidate Wally Childs who polled 948 votes. New Democrat Bernice Hancock was third with 579 votes. 

St. George's-Stephenville East had been represented by former cabinet minister and government house leader Joan Shea, who first won the seat in 2003. She left politics in early June.

Seats formerly held by Tory heavyweights

The turnover comes on the heels of two byelections in the last year in which the Liberals have snatched a seat once held by Tory heavyweights. Last November, Sam Slade won a byelection in Carbonear-Harbour Grace, taking the seat held by Jerome Kennedy. 

In April, Cathy Bennett won a byelection in Virginia Waters, which had previously been represented by former premier Kathy Dunderdale. 

The Liberals picked up four other seats since last August, with the defections of former Tories Tom Osborne and Paul Lane, and former New Democrats Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore.  

Childs said he accepted the results, and admitted he was not that surprised by the outcome. 

PC candidate Wally Childs said he was not much surprised by the outcome of Tuesday night's byelection. (CBC)
"There's always a sense that you know what's coming," he said, adding that he frequently heard complaints about road conditions. 

"When people feel neglected, they sometimes want a change for something different. You have high expectations when you go into any campaign, and the expectations were not quite met. So, a little saddened, but tomorrow I go back to Plan A, which is being principal of a wonderful school in St. George's." 

Meanwhile, Reid said his priorities will be improving the airport in Stephenville and helping small businesses grow in more rural areas. 

With files from Colleen Connors


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.