Nfld. & Labrador

On Point | Leadership ambitions and the Labrador byelection

Former MP Peter Penashue is giving a final push to win the Labrador byelection on Monday after resigning his seat this winter.
Liberal leadership ambitions and the Labrador byelection 16:19

Former MP Peter Penashue is giving a final push to his campaign in the Labrador byelection taking place on Monday after he resigned his seat in March.

During this week's On Point with David Cochrane, Conservative Senator David Wells, NDP MP Ryan Cleary and Liberal MP Scott Andrews weighed in on the challenges facing Penashue in the byelection.

Wells said he believes Penashue has a good chance of regaining his former riding, but that there is some stiff competition coming from the Liberal corner.

"It's tough — Yvonne Jones is a terrific candidate and would be — has been — a good voice for people in Labrador, but I think Peter will surprise people," Wells said.

"Yvonne's been a strong performer in the house of assembly here in Newfoundland and Labrador, so I'm not conceding the race, but I am conceding that she's a good candidate," he added.

Andrew said despite internal Conservative polls showing Penashue in the lead, Jones is still tough competition.

"Yvonne is a strong representative, and that's what we're hearing in Labrador. They want someone who's going to be strong and speak out for Labrador issues," Andrews said.

According to Cleary, the polls are not reflective of what NDP volunteers have been hearing when they visit homes in Labrador to canvass for NDP candidate Harry Borlase.

"I think the polls show one thing, and I think that the reaction at the door shows something else," Cleary said. "Harry is a strong candidate … I think the reaction that we get at the doors is just fabulous."

Wells said even though mistakes were made, Penashue did the right thing to step down and run in a byelection.

Provincial liberal leadership

Dwight Ball has been the interim leader of the Liberal party since December , 2011, and with a leadership convention approaching in the fall, he said he's hoping for the job on a permanent basis.

He said he has yet to hear of another person step forward and officially express interest in the position.

Interim provincial Liberal leader Dwight Ball says he hopes people are pleased with his performance and select him for the role or party leader full-time. (CBC)

However, Ball said that doesn't mean much yet — they still have until July 5.

"Anybody that is interested in this job right now I'm sure that they're … asking some questions, making some phone calls," Ball said.

"I really haven't heard that there's anybody that is formally thinking about this yet, but I would not be surprised if we had some people come forward."

Ball said he had a lot to learn very quickly when he took over the party leadership.

"It was a steep learning curve, I guess, if I look at this from a selfish point of view," Ball said. "So, for me, it's been very busy, but why others are not looking at this, maybe they've looked at this and said, 'Man, I don't want that lifestyle.'"

He said he is confident in his ability to manage the affairs of the party and, if elected as premier in 2015, the province.

"When people ask me questions about, you know, where we are, what is the position of this province, there's no doubt in my mind that I can manage the affairs of this province right now," Ball said.

"It's about taking the party, growing the Liberal party right now so, as a team, we become better. My job is to lead that team now and be the alternative for the 2015 election," he added.

The race for the Liberal leadership is set to begin this summer.