Questions about N.L. election timing rise along with number of COVID-19 cases
- Furey prepared for election to continue amid rising COVID-19 cases
- 60,000 votes have already been cast, what are we still waiting for?
- Where the leaders are today, tomorrow
As election day approaches and COVID-19 cases rise in the metro region, political leaders are prepared to continue on the campaign trail — even if hundreds in isolation might not get the chance to vote.
With 30 new cases announced in the Eastern Health region on Tuesday, Liberal Leader Andrew Furey was asked if he regrets calling an election for Feb. 13. But the election is going ahead — more on that below — so we'll continue to give you the latest information.
Welcome to the Election Notebook, your regular home for campaign news in the lead-up to Newfoundland and Labrador's election.
Furey fields calls on debt, Greene report
As part of CBC Radio's CrossTalk's series featuring the leaders of the province's three biggest political parties, Furey took calls from across the province on a variety of issues Tuesday.
Throughout the hour-long show, he fielded concerns on topics ranging from the oil and gas sector to mental health services.
Furey also faced questions on how the province will deal with its debt, and said there is no single solution — a sentiment he has echoed throughout his premiership.
He was also asked about the timing of the election, which will take place before a interim report from his economic recovery team is released. He said the release of early recommendations from Moya Greene shouldn't matter to the date of the election.
"You wouldn't eat a half-baked cake so I don't think we should be making decisions on interim reports," Furey said. "These are just concepts and recommendations that are coming forward. We have said and will continue to say we're going to consult broadly with the public, stakeholders, union members. Every Newfoundlander and Labradorian will have a chance to have a say."
The Liberal leader also faced numerous questions about an election being held as COVID-19 cases surge. While people in isolation won't be able to vote on Saturday, Furey said measures from Elections NL are in place to make polling stations safe.
"Choosing the election was not an easy decision for me. It's one I struggled with," he said. "But at the time we had low numbers, and we still have low numbers relatively speaking.
Furey said chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk will consult with public health officials.
"If they're able to continue with following public health guidelines, polling stations can be some of the safest places in the province."
You can listen to the Liberal leader's full conversation on a variety of issues with listeners here:
In the hours following Furey's radio appearance, PC Leader Ches Crosbie accused him of having his way as the number of cases grows.
The Premier had a choice. Full stop. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NLpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NLpoli</a> <a href="https://t.co/XZ1PcaQvsp">pic.twitter.com/XZ1PcaQvsp</a>—@ChesCrosbie
"The premier had a choice, and he chose to call the election now before it was safe to do so," he said in a video posted to Twitter. "The premier is getting his way, but public health is suffering and is the worse for it. That is the risk he assumed."
What are we still waiting to hear?
With just days until the election, nearly 60,000 votes have already been cast with many coming before party platforms were even released. So what will voters base their decision on when they vote on Saturday? The CBC's Peter Cowan put that question to Here & Now's political watchers on Monday.
"What's being presented versus what people are actually asking about or are concerned about are two very different things," said Hasan Hai, a former Liberal candidate. "The invisible elephant in the room is certainly the state of our economy and the economic crisis that is looming ahead of us, but really no one is talking about that substantially.… It's a wait and see, what happens February 14th? I guess we'll have solutions then."
- Complete coverage: Read all Newfoundland and Labrador Votes stories
Other political watchers, like former NDP volunteer Caitlin Urquhart, said decisions can only be made based on the information that is available. And while all four provincial parties have released platforms, they still might not feature the information voters are looking for.
"I think some have had to go looking for some answers, and they're not getting a whole lot," said Gillian Pearson, a former PC candidate. "I think the overarching ballot question is, 'Are you still willing to show up to vote when we don't have a lot of answers for you?'
"I think there's a significant portion of the population who say, 'I'm not going to bother, because it doesn't matter. We don't have enough information to make a decision.'"
- Who is running in your district? Get the complete list of candidates
You can hear more from our political watchers panel about what it could all mean, as well as how the rising number of COVID-19 cases could affect the election, here:
What's coming up
- NDP Leader Alison Coffin will make a couple of media appearances Wednesday, including on The St. John's Morning Show on CBC Radio. According to party officials, it's unlikely any announcements will be made.