Nfld. & Labrador

Dwight is all right: Ball gets backing of Liberal Party at AGM leadership vote

Dwight Ball still has the backing of his party, winning a leadership vote at the Liberal's annual general meeting on Saturday.

Ball gets 90 percent of vote, taking 300 of 333 ballots

John Allan, president of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, gives an endorsement of Premier Dwight Ball before voting on Saturday. (CBC)

Dwight Ball still has the backing of his party, following a leadership vote at the Liberal annual general meeting in Gander on Saturday.

In the vote of whether or not the party would like a leadership race, the result was a resounding "no."

Out of 333 votes cast, 300 were in support of Ball.

Voting kicked off at 1 p.m., followed by a glowing endorsement of the premier by party president John Allan.

"His work ethic is second to none," Allan said. "Twelve to 16 hours a day, seven days a week. And I'm not pulling your leg when I say 12 to 16 hours a day."

By the end of the speech, Allan was shouting over the cheers of a standing crowd.

"Send a message to all of Newfoundland and Labrador," he bellowed as his closing remarks. "The Liberal party stands united behind our leader."

On Friday night, Ball told the room full of Liberals that he was open to feedback and criticism regarding the first year of his premiership.

"If we've ever properly failed to live up to your obligations, if there's advice that you feel that we should heed, then I want you to let us know," he said.

While his popularity numbers have plummeted since the Liberals took the election, it would have taken a non-confidence vote of more than 50 per cent on Saturday to trigger a leadership race.

Days prior to last year's election, the Liberal party was polling at 67 per cent, according to Halifax-based Corporate Research Associates (CRA). By June, a CRA poll found only 27 per cent of decided voters would vote Liberal again.

But as recently as October, a public opinion poll by MQO found Liberal support was at 40 per cent among decided and leaning voters – up 10 points from July. 

The plummet in popularity had been due to measures introduced to counter mismanagement by the previous government, Allan said in his speech.

"Over the long haul, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will appreciate Dwight for being so brutally honest."

With files from Peter Cowan