Nfld. & Labrador

Conservative Clifford Small wins Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame

Conservative candidate Clifford Small has defeated Liberal Scott Simms in the riding of Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame by 264 votes.

Small to become first federal Conservative candidate to win in N.L. since 2011

Clifford Small is the first Conservative candidate to win a federal seat in Newfoundland and Labrador in a decade. (Clifford Small/Facebook)

Federal Conservative candidate Clifford Small has defeated Liberal Scott Simms in the riding of Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame, winning by 264 votes, according to the CBC Decision Desk on Friday.

Small is the first federal Conservative candidate to win in all of Newfoundland and Labrador since 2011.

"I am really appreciative to the people of Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame for putting their trust in me to be the voice that they're looking for," he said in an interview with CBC News on Friday evening.

Small said he's been knocking on doors in the riding since the beginning of July, and has taken the days since the election to rest.

On Tuesday, Small said he was confident he would win the race, even as his lead on Simms, who has been the Liberal MP for the riding since 2004, began to shrink.

Simms called Small on election night to concede, but said he was taking a wait-and-see approach as Small's lead narrowed on Tuesday.

The final result was ultimately determined by the 2,134 special ballots counted in the days following the election.

Small emerged with 47 per cent of the vote with 14,925 votes, while Simms had 46 per cent with 14,661 votes. NDP candidate Jamie Ruby had 7 per cent of the vote with 2,261 votes.

"It's nice for it to be over," Small said when the counting had finished.

From red to blue

Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame is now the only riding in Newfoundland and Labrador without a Liberal MP; however, the Conservative vote share grew in other parts of the province in the federal election.

Small grew up in Wild Cove, White Bay, on the Baie Verte Peninsula. He has opened three Smitty's restaurants, although on Tuesday he said he would consider selling them if they conflicted with his role as an MP.

On Friday, Small cited Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole's message as key to his success.

"I think that our leader's message really appealed to the people in this riding," he said.

Small also pointed to turmoil in the fishery and concern about the economy as reasons for his victory.

"We have had a lot of displaced oilpatch workers here, and both them and their families spoke out with their vote," he said. 

The first-time MP said his first priority is to hire new staff for his offices in Ottawa and his riding. Next, he said, he'll meet with his party and caucus to come up with a plan for moving forward.

Right now, he said his focus is on responding to phone calls and messages.

"It's about being accessible and that starts on Day 1."

CBC asked Simms for comment but did not receive a response.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador