Nfld. & Labrador

NDP support may weaken in wake of Liberal surge

Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore were welcomed into the provincial Liberal Party at a Tuesday event, but the high-profile political defections could mean uncertainty for the NDP.

Liberals pushing to harness NDP momentum from last election

Geoff Gallant, former NDP vice-president, says he has no immediate plans for his political future, but has kept an open mind since stepping down from the party executive. (CBC)

Dale Kirby and Christopher Mitchelmore were welcomed into the provincial Liberal Party at a Tuesday event, but the high-profile political defection could mean uncertainty for the NDP.

The two MHAs left the New Democrats to sit as independents in the house of assembly, following a rift in October when party leader Lorraine Michael received a letter from caucus members that cited leadership concerns.

Some NDP workers, former executive members, and former candidates were at the Liberal event to show their support for Kirby and Mitchelmore.

Geoff Gallant, who resigned as vice-president of the provincial NDP following the party's fallout, said he is still a member of the NDP, but there are things to consider in his political future.

"One of the great things since I've left the executive of the party is that I've actually been listening with a clean perspective of what all the different parties are saying and offering," Gallant said.

"Everyone's got a little different to offer, and I've really kind of enjoyed what Mr. Ball's saying about being an open and inclusive party. It's actually quite appealing."

However, Gallant said he has no immediate plans to run in the next election.
Chris Pickard, former NDP candidate, says he supports Dale Kirby's switch to the Liberal party, but doesn't have any political plans of his own. (CBC)

He said he's content to sit on the political sidelines for now, but the New Democrats need to give some thought to what the reasons are for losing some members.

"They need to really look at why people are being attracted to the Liberal party," Gallant said.

New prospects

Chris Pickard, who ran as an NDP candidate in the 2011 provincial election, said he was at the event to support Kirby, who first suggested he get into politics.

"It's an interesting time. Dale is certainly somebody who encouraged me to get involved [with the NDP] and I followed him along the way and I'm following his leadership and integrity, and I think this is a good move for Dale," Pickard said.

Pickard came in at a close second in St. John's West during the last provincial election, but said his political future is uncertain with the NDP.

"I've never been asked to run again, which is an interesting thing as well," he said.

Siobhan Coady says she'll be approaching former NDP supporters to ask for help in garnering Liberal support. (CBC)
Meanwhile, other Liberal members are hoping to capture some of the NDP momentum during the 2015 election and avoid being shut-out of St. John's.

Former Liberal MP Siobhan Coady said she will be looking for some support to gain a nomination in the city.

"I think with some assistance from some of the NDP that are disenfranchised from their own party coming over to the Liberal party, I think what you'll see is people understanding and seeing the Liberal party in a new light," she said.

Coady said she'll be talking to former NDP supporters to try and gain support.

"I'll be speaking to them over the next coming days and asking them to assist - not only with the nomination, but hopefully, if I win the nomination, with the election coming forward," she said.


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