Nfld. & Labrador

Liberals aim to unseat PC cabinet ministers

Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward says his party has its sights set on the seats of a number of current cabinet ministers.
Liberal leader Kevin Alyward speaking with a senior citizen in Stephenville Tuesday. (Carolyn Ray/ CBC)

Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward says his party has its sights set on the seats of a number of current cabinet ministers.

The party hopes to regain St. George's-Stephenville East from Education Minister Joan Burke. Aylward represented the area four times before leaving politics in 2003.

Monday Aylward said Burke isn't the only Progressive Conservative who should be nervous about losing a seat in the house of assembly after the Oct. 11 provincial election.

"If we're going to take the government over, we're going to have to defeat a number of cabinet ministers and right now, after the nominations we've had in the last few days, there are a number of cabinet ministers worrying about their futures," he said.

Aylward, 51, was expected to campaign in the Stephenville area Tuesday.

He was first elected to the house of assembly in 1985, when he was only 24. When the Liberals took power in 1989, he sat in the backbenches for five years. From 1994 through 2003, he held multiple cabinet portfolios, including environment, agriculture and tourism.

Aylward left cabinet in February 2003, in a shakeup that then-premier Roger Grimes initiated to prepare for what would turn out to be a failed bid at re-election. Aylward declined to run again and instead headed to private life.

PC Joan Burke defeated Liberal Ron Dawe by 463 votes in 2003. Dawe, a PC cabinet minister in the Peckford era, had wanted the nomination, but was blocked by leader Danny Williams. Dawe switched to the Liberal side. Burke won the 2007 election for the Tories with over 74 per cent of the vote.