Nfld. & Labrador

O'Keefe steps up for Skinner campaign

The mayor of St. John's takes to the campaign trail to lend a hand to a Tory cabinet minister in a tight race from a New Democrat.
Mayor Dennis O'Keefe makes a joke about his heart condition while campaigning Friday with St. John's Centre incumbent Shawn Skinner. (CBC )


  • The candidates in St. John's Centre are PC Shawn Skinner, NDP Gerry Rogers and Liberal Carly Bigelow
  • Skinner first won the seat in 2003

The mayor of St. John's took to the campaign trail Friday to lend a hand to a Tory cabinet minister in a tight race with a New Democrat.

"I gotta put my heart into the campaign, see," Dennis O'Keefe said jokingly while greeting a potential voter with St. John's Centre incumbent Shawn Skinner at a city supermarket.

Skinner, Newfoundland and Labrador's natural resources minister, won the district in 2007 with a 2,682-vote margin, although even Tory insiders concede that NDP candidate Gerry Rogers could take the seat this time. [MORE: Read a profile of St. John's Centre.]

The PCs publicized O'Keefe's participation in advance, in an indication that the party is pouring resources into a seat it wants to keep. O'Keefe said helping out was not an issue.

"I've always helped him out on his campaigns in the past and he's helped me out on my campaigns so I'm here today to give him whatever support I can," said O'Keefe, who started working on PC campaigns in the 1960s.

Skinner admitted his competition this time is the NDP. The Liberal candidate this time is university student Carly Bigelow. [MORE: Listen to the candidates' debate organized by the St. John's Morning Show.]

"I think the Liberal presence has died," Skinner told CBC News. "But I also feel that my own support, my own record over the past eight years, is going to hold me in good stead and I expect to be victorious on Tuesday evening."

For her part, Rogers also got a municipal boost on Friday, through St. John's Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary, a longtime friend.

"She's not afraid to speak her mind which is something I appreciate because I try to do the same," O'Leary said.

PC Leader Kathy Dunderdale campaigned in St. John's on Friday, but chose not to campaign in the districts where the NDP have the best chances.

"We have confidence in our candidates and in our teams on the ground," Dunderdale said.