Yvonne Jones says goodbye to fellow MHAs
Veteran Liberal politician gets a standing ovation following final speech to legislature
One of the longest-serving members of the house of assembly thanked her fellow politicians as she bade farewell to provincial politics.
Yvonne Jones, who has represented Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair since 1996, has been named the Liberal candidate in the forthcoming federal byelection in Labrador, and will resign her provincial seat as soon as the writ is dropped.
In a lengthy speech to the legislature, Jones said it's unlikely she will be sitting in the house again when it reopens in a few weeks after the Easter break.
Jones - who shares with St. John's MHA Tom Osborne the distinction of being the longest-serving member of the legislature - described arriving at Confederation Building 17 years ago, at the age of 27.
"I faced full benches of ministers who had a tremendous experience as parliamentarians in the house of assembly," said Jones, who was elected as an Independent.
"I grew up on the coast of Labrador and I was probably as far removed from Confederation Building as you could ever imagine possible in this Province. Coming here was a relatively new experience for me - very new."
Though elected first as an Independent, Jones' career has involved the Liberal party from the start. After failing to win the party's nomination in 1996 against two-term veteran Danny Dumaresque, Jones defeated him in the election. She later joined the Liberal caucus after running as the party's candidate in 1999, and eventually became party leader, although she had to step down just weeks before the 2011 election to fight a breast cancer diagnosis.
During her remarks — which eventually drew a standing ovation from all members of the house — Jones paid tribute to what politicians contribute to the public good.
"People have talked about politicians, and oftentimes, we are not held in the highest of esteem throughout the public corridors I suppose," she said.
"I tell you I hold politicians in very high esteem, because I know what the job entails. I know that politics is not about a party platform, and I know it is not about the degree of banter that goes on in a debate on a bill," she said.
"It is really about how you reach out to make changes in this province, fundamental changes, that build a foundation that many others can build upon and grow over the years."
Click on the video above to see Jones' full speech.