Nfld. & Labrador

'Strong message' from voters as re-elected N.L. Liberals see sharp drop in support

Newfoundland and Labrador is sending all but one of its incumbent MPs back to Ottawa, but each candidate lost support.

As much as 30-percentage-point drop in vote share compared with 2015 results

Yvonne Jones speaks to supporters after her successful re-election bid Monday night. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador is sending all but one of its Liberal incumbent MPs back to Ottawa, but each of the candidates lost support, according to the polling results.

Labrador incumbent Yvonne Jones won with just under 42 per cent — a drop of 30 percentage points from her vote share in 2015.

Her NDP and Conservative competitors both had a higher vote share this federal election, compared with 2015, when she was up against a newcomer New Democrat, and disgraced former Conservative MP Peter Penashue.

Jones said the numbers speak for themselves.

"I think it's very obvious when you look at the polls, I'm not ignoring that. I think there's a strong message in that, and the message is that there are many issues that are very diverse right now across the country, and Labradorians are looking at that and weighing their options," Jones said.

If we continue to bitterly argue amongst each other … this minority Parliament will be sunk from the very beginning.- Scott Simms

While out campaigning, Jones said she met far more people who weren't sure what they were going to do.

"I think for the first time I found more undecided vote at the doors than I found in previous elections," she said, adding that there was a lot of misinformation on social media that she thinks may have contributed to that.

"I also found that leadership and national party policy played a bigger role in this election than I've seen in the past."

In Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame, Scott Simms was re-elected for his sixth term, with a vote share around 48 per cent — a fair share, but a drastic drop from 2015, when he had around 75 per cent of the vote.

Scott Simms takes calls of congratulations from supporters, following his sixth successful campaign. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"I've always wanted to win the riding with 50 per cent, plus one, because then you can say you have your outright majority and not just a plurality of votes, so that's always my goal," Simms said.

"We may be a few points off, but we think we've reached that."

Simms said this year's election is a lot different compared with 2015, when a Liberal wave swept Atlantic Canada, ousting long-time Conservative and NDP MPs in a number of ridings.

But the Liberal government made some "bold decisions" in its four years, Simms said, which left some voters who perhaps voted for them last time round to rethink their old party allegiances.

"They drift away from the Liberal camp, but that's it," Simms said.

The minority government, Simms said, could be a chance for members from all party colours to be forced to co-operate.

"The problem is we have to play like adults and we have to get along. We have to move the country forward with the right legislation, so if you have to sacrifice a little bit to another party, if you have to get along, as it were, then we have to do that — Canadians are expecting that," he said.

"But if we continue to bitterly argue amongst each other, label each other instead of listening to each other, then this minority Parliament will be sunk from the very beginning."

Gudie Hutchings chats with fishery mogul Bill Barry at her campaign headquarters in Corner Brook on Monday night. (Troy Turner/CBC)

Gudie Hutchings in the Long Range Mountains will be sitting for her second term as a Liberal, but with far less support than 2015.

She went from 73.8 per cent of the vote share last election, to 47.3 this time round. Conservative candidate Josh Eisses, who didn't appear to live in the riding, or even campaign in it, took 28 per cent of the vote, while the NDP's Holly Pike had nearly 20 per cent.

"Newfoundlanders love their politics and it shows that people vote their party no matter whom the representative is," was Hutchings's response when asked about the vote share Monday night.

"I think we need to do a better job of telling the story … of the great work that we have done and the great work we will continue to do."

'Governing doesn't come to a standstill'

Churence Rogers we re-elected in Bonavista-Burin-Trinity with 48.7 per cent of the vote, in a tighter race with Conservative Sharon Vokey. Rogers was elected two years ago in a byelection, following the departure of longtime MP Judy Foote, who left the seat for personal reasons and now sits as the province's lieutenant-governor.

Ken McDonald and Seamus O'Regan had healthier vote shares than some of their fellow Liberal incumbents, with 46 and 51 per cent, respectively, on Monday night. That's a drop of nine percentage points for McDonald, and eight percentage points for O'Regan.

McDonald said he's "not surprised or disappointed" with his showing.

"I think four years ago there was a huge hatred on in Newfoundland and Labrador for Stephen Harper, and I think this time that level of hatred wasn't there, so I think the Conservative voters went back to their Conservative candidates," McDonald said.

O'Regan, meanwhile, said there won't be much time for "reading the tea leaves," and there will need to be swift action with a minority Liberal government to get to work with all the parties.

"Governing doesn't come to a standstill," he said.

"It's incumbent on us to make it work. People want us to make it work."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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