Nfld. & Labrador

Ball resigns as MHA, Furey will run in his place

Andrew Furey has confirmed he's running in the district of Humber-Gros Morne, as Dwight Ball has announced he is resigning as MHA in his home district.

Byelection set for Oct. 6

Dwight Ball and Andrew Furey have a deal — Ball has stepped down from his seat in Humber-Gros Morne and endorsed the new premier in his place. (Submitted by Andrew Furey)

Premier Andrew Furey has confirmed he's running in Humber-Gros Morne, as Dwight Ball has announced he is resigning as MHA in his home district and a byelection will take place on Oct. 6.

The move does not come as a surprise — Furey is currently on his third tour of the electoral district since he was chosen as the leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador last month. "One of them was a family vacation," he told CBC News late Monday afternoon. "The one today will be paid for by the party or the campaign funds. And the first one I believe was paid by me personally so there's been no government money to date on this."

Humber-Gros Morne encompasses parts of the island's west coast and Northern Peninsula, including Ball's hometown of Deer Lake.

Ball was elected to a slight variation of the district in 2011 and held the seat throughout his premiership from 2015 to 2020.

"Today I am announcing my resignation as the MHA for Humber-Gros Morne," Ball tweeted on Monday afternoon. "I am forever grateful for the trust that you have placed in me during my time in politics, thank you for all your support.

The 14th Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Andrew Furey addresses the audience following the Swearing-in ceremony on the grounds of Government House in St. John's on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

It's a long way from Furey's home in St. John's, but he'll look to capitalize on Ball's support and endorsement.

Moments after the news became public, the Liberal Party sent a news release announcing it had opened nominations for the district. They will close on Sunday, Sept. 13. Candidates from all parties must then file their forms by Sept. 15 with Elections N.L..

Furey's camp also sent a news release, reiterating what he's said about intending to run for the first available seat. Late Monday afternoon, Elections Newfoundland and Labrador announced the byelection date would be Oct. 6.

"As former Premier Dwight Ball decides to leave public life after many years of service, I'd like to thank him for his commitment to the province," Furey wrote in the release. "I look forward to the opportunity to represent this beautiful district."

Never before has a sitting premier run in a byelection in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Twice a premier hasn't had a seat when they were chosen as leader — Brian Tobin won a seat in a general election a month after he was picked as leader, and Clyde Wells took over Eddie Joyce's seat by acclamation in 1989 after losing in the general election.

Retirement for Ball

Monday's announcement marks the end of an era for provincial politics — Ball is officially retired.

His introduction to politics in the Humber district — much like his time as premier — was rocky. He was briefly the MHA in 2007 after winning a contentious byelection in a judicial recount after losing on the first count.

He lost the seat eight months later in the 2007 general election before squeaking out a win in 2011. 

Dwight Ball has resigned as the provincial representative for his home district of Humber-Gros Morne. (Mark Cumby/CBC)

Two years later, Ball won the Liberal leadership race and held the post for seven years.

In interviews leading up to the end of his term, Ball said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family while figuring out what comes next.

His legacy will be marked by unpopular decisions such as the 2015 provincial budget and a combination of faux pas in his final two years as premier, such as the hiring of Liberal insider Carla Foote to a cushy marketing job at a provincial institution without competition, the controversial and expensive appointment of former deputy minister Gordon MacIntosh as an energy consultant, and the flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir without methylmercury remediation promised to Indigenous groups.

On the flip side, he was applauded for launching a public inquiry into the Muskrat Falls megaproject, improving relationships with Ottawa and bringing some economic stability in the eyes of bond rating agencies after a shocking deficit following years of a Progressive Conservative government.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Peter Cowan

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