Nfld. & Labrador

Shaking hands, playing games, getting dunked: All in a Regatta Day for politicians

While Regatta Day is a holiday for most people in St. John’s, federal and provincial politicians are hard at work pressing the flesh and rustling up the votes.

There's an election coming, and those babies at Quidi Vidi Lake ain't gonna kiss themselves

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with plenty of people at the 201st Royal St. John's Regatta, and he got a mixed welcome. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Politicians are every bit a fixture at the Royal St. John's Regatta as the ring toss.

And who can blame them? With tens of thousands of potential voters, it's a one-stop shop for politicians wanting to shake hands, take photos and kiss babies.

While Regatta Day is a holiday for most people in St. John's, federal and provincial politicians are hard at work — if that's the right word —  meeting the public and promoting their parties.

One even took an unexpected bath.

Dunking on politicians isn't just for #nlpoli Twitter. PC Leader Ches Crosbie hit the water quick in the dunk tank.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — with an election looming this October — started the day with a rousing speech for firefighters at an international conference, thanking them for their service, and then met with Premier Dwight Ball before heading to Quidi Vidi Lake, where the glad-handing could begin.

The prime minister started a race, presented the medals and posed for plenty of selfies with supporters, but was also challenged with questions and jeers from the crowd, which he largely ducked.

Trudeau started a race Wednesday morning at the Royal St. John's Regatta. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

The prime minister also wasn't answering questions from reporters but Trudeau did say he and Ball were working on a plan for power rate mitigation when the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric megaproject comes online.

'Everyone had a great time'

Fellow Liberal Nick Whalen went the standard route of setting up a tent.

Whalen — seeking re-election this fall in St. John's East — promoted his shop as a water-bottle refilling station and handed out reusable bags printed with "Pick Nick."

He said he and his organizers had been giving away plastic water bottles in past years, but people complained about the single-use plastics.

"I learned from constituents that way, and I'll learn from them today."

Whalen took a stroll with Trudeau earlier in the day from the boathouse to the starting gate, and described the crowd trying to meet the prime minister as huge. 

"It was the longest it's ever taken me to walk 200 metres in my life," he said.

"Everyone had a great time."

The provincial New Democratic Party also set up lakeside, with leader Alison Coffin and MHA Jim Dinn meeting the public and signing up new members.

Taking shots from all comers

Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie really put himself out there — or up there.

Crosbie, who is rarely shy about taking shots at the Liberal government in the House of Assembly, let the public take actual shots at him, through a dunk tank raising money for Young Adult Cancer Canada. 

He danced over to the official waiting to show him up to the plank and waved to the whistling crowd as he took his seat.

The first person to dunk him was a little boy, held up to the target by an adult.

(Ted Dillon/CBC)

But Crosbie got back up for more, laughing and heckling the crowd as people lined up to take a shot.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Peter Cowan

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