Nfld. & Labrador·Election Notebook

Furey says critics of parachute candidate are 'not defending democracy'

The Liberal leader struck back at critics of his Torngat Mountains candidate on Monday.

Liberal leader strikes back at critics of his Torngat Mountains candidate

Latest

  • Liberals defend parachute candidate
  • PCs promise more local hiring
  • NDP call for minimum wage increase
  • Tuesday schedules for the party leaders

Liberal Leader Andrew Furey suggested Monday that critics of his party's Labrador parachute candidate are anti-democratic, as he stepped up to defend his Torngat Mountains candidate.

Devon Ryan has been criticized for running in a majority-Inuit, northern Labrador district that he has yet to visit, but Furey said Monday that nomination was the result of normal democratic processes, and suggested critics of the nomination are criticizing democracy itself.

"This is the democratic process, and you know, we want to give the people a chance to vote for a Liberal majority government and Mr. Ryan has stepped up, and that's part of the democratic process," he said during a visit to Labrador City.

"Anyone who says otherwise is frankly not defending democracy and that's not something that I'm willing to tolerate."

Welcome to the Election Notebook, your regular and friendly source for election goings-on as the second week of the campaign continues.

Here's what's happening Monday:

Torngat fallout

Reaction to Ryan's candidacy has been steady, and the candidate himself took exception to some Facebook comments that his opponent, incumbent Lela Evans, had engaged with on Facebook. He said Evans was encouraging "bullying" and attached an image that appeared to show she "loved" a Facebook comment calling Ryan an idiot.

Another Liberal candidate and longtime MHA, Andrew Parsons, also weighed in, writing, "What a way for us to encourage interest in politics for young people."

Parsons did not reply to multiple requests from CBC News for comment. Neither did Lisa Dempster, another Liberal Labrador candidate, who tweeted that Evans was inciting hatred against Ryan.

On Monday evening, Lela Evans told CBC reporter Jeremy Eaton that it was disappointing to be talking about Facebook activity instead of the issues of her district.

"If anyone should apologize to this young man, it should be Premier Furey for putting him in this situation," Evans said.

Earlier Monday, Furey called Ryan a "young, energetic Labradorian."

"This is democracy. I'm excited that Mr. Ryan put this name forward," he said. "[He] wants to be involved in the democratic process. I hope that no one would stifle someone's ability to run, now or in the future."

Liberal Leader Andrew Furey, right, stands beside Labrador candidate Wayne Button. (Submitted by the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Furey also announced Monday that his government would create a "virtual trade desk" called InvestNL, calling foreign trade "one of the ways out of this global economic crisis."

NDP eye minimum wage

On Monday, NDP Leader Alison Coffin campaigned in St. John's, where she reiterated her party's long-standing call to raise Newfoundland and Labrador's minimum wage.

She said that if her party formed government it would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour — a pledge that was part of her first election campaign as leader in 2019 — by the end of 2022, .

The provincial minimum wage is currently $12.15 per hour, set to rise to at least $12.65 by the end of 2021.

"If we want a different future, we have to make different choices," she told reporters. "We can choose to increase wages so people are not living in poverty."

"It is not good enough for the government to stand by while so many people are struggling to make ends meet. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians deserve better." 

NDP Leader Alison Coffin takes questions from reporters at a campaign stop in St. John's. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Coffin said the impact on small business could be offset by lowering tax rates.

From wages to hiring

While the NDP talked wages, PC Leader Ches Crosbie focused on hiring during a campaign stop on Newfoundland's west coast.

Crosbie was in Stephenville for a press conference Monday morning, and reiterated his party's pledge to institute a local benefits policy for certain infrastructure projects.

That policy would add require bidders on government infrastructure projects to explain how they would employ local workers on the job site. It would also set certain targets for how many employees should be women, Indigenous people and trades apprentices.

"If our taxpayers are funding government projects, shouldn't our taxpayers be guaranteed the jobs that go with those projects?" Crosbie asked Monday. 

"Even now, we've heard reports of out-of-province workers on the job at construction sites and projects across Newfoundland and Labrador."

According to Crosbie, workers from outside the province are employed in the construction of the new Corner Brook hospital, and the long-term care homes in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor.

Across the web

Voters in the district of Mount Scio tell the Telegram what they hope to see out of the February election.

At the Independent, editor Drew Brown averts his gaze from a "real race to the bottom" to look for some silver linings.

And on Twitter, NL Alliance candidate Andrea Newbury tries to get in on the sea shanty craze sweeping the internet.

Tuesday on the trail

  • NDP Leader Alison Coffin will remain in St. John's on Tuesday. She'll be a guest on CBC Radio's Crosstalk at noon.
  • Liberal Leader Andrew Furey will campaign in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Tuesday.
  • PC Leader Ches Crosbie will campaign in Corner Brook and Pasadena on Tuesday.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Garrett Barry

Journalist

Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander.

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