NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR 2007

Features

Campaign Trail

Simonistas!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | 07:03 AM ET

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We hope Simon Lono, the Liberal candidate in St. John's North, will soon be back on his feet. Lono was hospitalized this weekend after a blood clot gave him chest pains. Lono, who had been an aide in the premier's office during the Clyde Wells era, is making his debut as a provincial candidate ... and has brought a sense of humour to the campaign trail.

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This is one of a series of T-shirts you can buy through a Cafepress page that the Lono campaign built. As political swag goes, this definitely had a wink to it.
- John Gushue

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Some thoughts for polling day

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | 06:55 AM ET

I posted the following quote on my own blog this morning ... an observation from the American wit, Will Rogers: "Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do."

Cynical? Maybe.

Here are some other thoughts on elections, politics, etc., to consider on this, the long-awaited election day.

"Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians."
- Charles de Gaulle

"Our people are slow to learn the wisdom of sending character instead of talent to Congress."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A week is a long time in politics."
- Harold Wilson

"In politics, you have no friends, only allies."
- John F. Kennedy

"Freedom is the oxygen of the soul."
- Moshe Dayan

"Politics is not the art of the possible; it is the art of making possible what is necessary."
- Jacques Chirac

"An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."
- T.S. Eliot

[]

Know another? Send it in.
- John Gushue

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Back from the bus

Monday, October 8, 2007 | 12:40 PM ET

Jeff Gilhooly, who hosted a province-wide Morning Show today, had a chat with reporters David Cochrane, Azzo Rezori and Mike Rossiter about how the campaigns of the major parties have gone. You can listen to that here.

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Sign-seeing

Sunday, October 7, 2007 | 08:19 AM ET

It took a while, but the streets of St. John's finally look like there's an election underway. Major thoroughfares are lined with blue, red and orange, although I have to agree with a Telegram editorial of a few days ago, which noted that - at least on the northeast Avalon - "the number of signs pounded into public property vastly outnumber the signs that voters have agreed to have on their own land."

That being said, we've also noticed some signage oddities along the campaign trail ... some of which we've mentioned on the air. First, a refresher:

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Above is an image of Danny Williams, on his first trip to Torngat Mountains district in Labrador, to campaign with candidate Patty Pottle. (The second visit, this week, you may recall, is when Williams all but promised voters that Pottle will get a cabinet seat if she wins.) A quick look at the spelling of the district will let you know that there's not much time for proofreading in the haste to get signs made.
[UPDATE: The PC campaign called to say that "Torngait" is how many Inuit spell the word.]

For our second image, here's a question: how possessive is Danny Williams, anyway?

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Our eagle-eyed reporter-slash-grammarian Doug Greer spotted this error while interviewing Humber East incumbent Tom Marshall, who - to his credit - fessed up to not catching the cat-apostrophe on his sign. No need for that little bit of punctuation, as Williams is the modifier in this phrase. (Grammar fans, all two of you, may be interested to know that CBCNews.ca style on expressing the premier's name in a possessive form is to say, for instance, "Williams's team," but without the "the." )

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Recycling is a good thing, even on the campaign trail. Gemma Schlamp-Hickey, running for the NDP in St. John's East, is making good use of signs she evidently had made earlier this year ... for the byelection in Kilbride district. A close look at the photo above shows how easy it is to freshen up a perfectly good sign.

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Speaking of recycling, Doug noticed this sign amid a display of signage at the Liberal party campaign launch a few weeks back. Is it just us, or does that blue lettering on some Simon Lono signs - with red banners stickered across - suggest the signs were retailored from some other use (municipal campaign, perhaps), or what?
- John Gushue

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Politics and the Thanksgiving weekend

Sunday, October 7, 2007 | 08:07 AM ET

Today will be a quiet day for many people across Newfoundland and Labrador, but there will still be plenty of activity on the campaign trail. Apart from whatever candidates and volunteers will be doing, things will be humming here at the CBC building on the Prince Philip parkway.

Politicians knock themselves out in the days leading up to an election ... and so do media organizations. The CBC building will be buzzing today, with training and preparation for all the activity on Tuesday. As you can imagine, reporting an election - in three media lines and in two languages - takes quite a bit of effort, co-ordination and especially preparedness.

It's going to be a busy day.
- John Gushue

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It's deja vu, all over again

Saturday, October 6, 2007 | 08:03 AM ET

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How well do you remember the last election campaign? You may want to take a tour through Newfoundland & Labrador Votes 2003, which is all still online.

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The long-range ballot outlook

Friday, October 5, 2007 | 06:39 AM ET

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The long-range weather forecast is not, um, something I would place a wager on. Nonetheless, I was curious to see what's expected in the weather forecast for next Tuesday. As you can see above, it's shaping up to be fallish weather indeed.
- John Gushue

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Head count

Friday, October 5, 2007 | 06:04 AM ET

About 500 people crowded into an arena in Mount Pearl last night, for a PC rally to rah-rah the troops in the last days of the election campaign. That's the largest rally seen in this year's campaign ... but it was much smaller than a similar event last year.
As David Cochrane notes in a report for CBC Radio this morning, it's likely another sign that many people aren't that interested in this election; last time, after all, the government changed, and we don't do that all that often. No wonder the Tories have been saying their opponent in this campaign is complacency.

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Curmudgeonly yours

Thursday, October 4, 2007 | 12:06 PM ET

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Fred Armstrong, who contributes the Curmudgeon feature to the Morning Show, took on the election campaign this week, in his latest piece.

You can hear it here.

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Dude, where's my district? (I)

Thursday, October 4, 2007 | 09:41 AM ET

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Not sure what district you live in?

The chief electoral office has some tools that can help.

To find the district, type in the name of your street (but not the number, nor words like "Street" or "Place") into the lookup tool, and the name of your town or city.

You can also browse through a lengthy list of streets and districts, available here.

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Dude, where's my district? (II)

Thursday, October 4, 2007 | 09:39 AM ET

Remember Auditor General John Noseworthy's report from last month on constituency allowances? Rightly or wrongly, the revelations in that report - including, notoriously, expenditures on wine, luxury goods, art and odds and ends like lottery tickets - have faded away on the campaign trail. After all, no particular party was specifically fingered in the report, and the blame was spread across party lines, and then some.

I'm still curious about some of the details in that report, including this chestnut (page 61, if you want to look it up) about an unnamed district that was, truly, on the go:

"One member initially claimed mileage from St. John's to their District as 700 km, then, in 2004-05 increased this to 800 km and claimed 54 trips, and in 2005-06 increased this to 900 km and claimed 43 trips. The member continued to claim monthly mileage amounts for intra-district travel."

That was followed by the member whose travelling distance changed from 650 km to 900 km - a distance that an unnamed politician claimed to have travelled 262 times in the 1996-97 year. Why the difference? From the report:

"The Member explained that he was advised by officials of the House of Assembly establishment that he could claim the mid-point of his District which was in the ocean and therefore could only be reached by boat. As a result, he claimed an amount equivalent to the cost of a boat charter to that point in the ocean."

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No other place he needed to be

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | 02:21 PM ET

Mike Rossiter filed this note this afternoon, from the Liberal campaign bus:

It's the third day of the third week of the campaign and Gerry Reid seems to be in good spirits. The Liberal leader was totally thrown for a loop on Monday night when he got word that Gerry Tobin, the candidate in Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans, had passed away.

The Liberal camp, which had just had a large, boisterous rally, met well into the night to absorb the news, and to figure out a game plan. By Tuesday morning, it was decided that the big red bus was going to drive straight to Grand Falls. No stopping, no campaigning... just driving.

The Liberals campaign, which had been in Marystown, had planned a full day of travel around the Burin Peninsula and then to the south coast by helicopter. These are two areas that Reid likes to mention when he talks about the fishery and rural areas of the province. As well, the Liberals feel they have a very, good shot at one of these districts (Fortune Bay - Cape La Hune)

Well, those plans went out the window. It's a long drive from Marystown to Grand Falls-Windsor, and it took most of the day. The bus pulled out around 10 a.m., passed through district after district, and arrived in central Newfoundland around 4:30 p.m.

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Reid held a meeting at Tobin's former headquarters, which was in a non-descript building in the middle of town. About 20 campaign workers and local union reps showed up as a sign of support.

It was a closed-door meeting, but I could clearly see what was going on inside. One man walked in with a Tobin sign in his hand. "I'm here to return my sign, I guess," he said. People were at a loss for words to describe what happened.

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In the back of the building, I could see where the signs and banners were stacked. In fact, by Tuesday evening, you couldn't help but notice that in Grand Falls, the only hint of Liberal red was on the campaign bus that just rolled into town. Every single Gerry Tobin sign and banner was taken down within hours.

There were no votes to wrangle, no hands to shake, no news conference with a shot at Danny Williams.

But with days left in the election campaign, there was no other place in the province that Gerry Reid felt he needed to be.

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Voting season

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | 01:17 PM ET

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Newfoundland and Labrador goes to the polls next Tuesday; Ontario follows suit on Wednesday. And that's just two chapters in what has already been a busy electoral year in Canada. Check out this interactive CBC.ca created earlier this year.

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Advance poll numbers

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | 08:22 AM ET

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The chief electoral office announced this morning that some 7,609 votes were cast Tuesday in the advance poll. A district-by-district breakdown can be seen here.

One doesn't want to read too much into numbers, but it's worth noting that the district with the highest ballot count was Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, one of the more competitive races in this election. There, 368 votes were cast - or just under five per cent of the eligible vote. If nothing else, it shows campaign workers tried to get the vote out yesterday.
- John Gushue

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Back to the Big Land

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | 05:44 AM ET

CBC Television's Chris O'Neill-Yates, travelling with the PC campaign, filed these notes last evening:

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Since very early in the campaign it has been very evident that the four seats in Labrador would be ones to watch. Three in particular, Torngat Mountains, Lake Melville and Labrador West, seem to have full-out races in progress. In Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, where Liberal Yvonne Jones has had huge support ever since she was elected as an independent in 1996, even the Tories are aware that Jones will be extremely difficult to beat.

Monday began with a ride on the private jet to Stephenville where Williams and west coast candidates gave a press conference highlighting the Blue Book promises on education. Talking to students there the major proccupation is - you guessed it - student debt. After that a quick bus drive to Corner Brook to file our story for Here & Now. Then it was off again on the jet to Blanc Sablon and on to a rally at the Northern Lights in L'Anse au Clair.

When we pulled up in the parking lot there was a bunch of pre-teen kids on the balcony waving Tory signs. They broke into loud sqeals and chanted "Danny, Danny" as the premier made his way into a room of about 150 people (I am useless at counting heads but among those I spoke with estimates ran from 120 to 150). The premier's stump speeches have been pretty tame and scripted up to now, but Monday night he launched into as partisan and spirited an address as he's given on this campaign.

Williams quashed rumours - which are rampant in the district - that Liberal Yvonne Jones is eyeing a move to the PC side of the House of Assembly should she beat PC Dennis Normore. Williams said if Jones does win and try to cross the floor, he'll send her right back where she came from.

We left L'Anse au Clair after the rally and an hour and a half later it was wheels down in Labrador City. A late night of viewing tape and script writing ensued until the small hours.

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The morning wake up call came oh too soon and the media tagged along as Williams and Labrador West PC candidate Jim Baker (above, left) greeted workers at the IOC operation when the shift changed at 6:45.

Baker is in for a bit of a fight in Labrador West. That's evident by the fact that Williams has been in the district twice in as many weeks. The Labrador party pulled its candidate and is backing the NDP candidate, Darrel Brenton, the town's mayor. In the byelection six months ago, the Labrador party polled more votes than Baker won by. It is Labrador West where history has shown that anything can happen.

I will end on a note that has nothong to do with the election campaign. I am in a Twin Otter on the way to Rigolet and I am awestruck and humbled by the magnificence of what I see unfold below me. The vast spendour of Labrador from this plane on a gorgeous sunny day is absolutely captivating. I am signing off this missive to catch my breath and soak up the beauty of Labrador.

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