Defeated NDP MP Jack Harris: 'My plan was to get re-elected'

Former NDP MP Jack Harris reflects on the election, what the NDP learned from the campaign, and how he feels about his former caucus member-turned-PC candidate, Ryan Cleary.

Long-time Newfoundland politician says election upset 'didn't make logical sense'

Jack Harris on Ryan Cleary: 'This is certainly a betrayal'

7 years ago
Duration 8:57
Defeated NDP MP Jack Harris on Cleary's switch to the PCs and his own election defeat.

Former NDP MP Jack Harris didn't see the Liberals' sweep through Atlantic Canada coming.

"People are asking me what are my plans, but I didn't really have any plans — my plan was to get re-elected," Harris said after losing his St. John's East seat to the Liberals' Nick Whalen by less than 700 votes.

"I wanted to continue to do that, so I'm very disappointed to have lost, but the voters have the ultimate say."

The longtime Newfoundland and Labrador politician, who handily won his riding in 2011 with 71.2 per cent of the vote, said election night results "didn't make logical sense" at the time, but he's since accepted the decision.

"It made emotional sense to people who said they wanted change," he told host Rosemary Barton in an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

"They were looking at the national numbers, they were looking at the narrative, and they voted with their hearts. Just what we would do, frankly."

Harris said one of the issues that derailed the NDP campaign was the public debate over the niqab, and that the campaign will be thoroughly analyzed by the party in the coming months.

Also up for analysis will be NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, in a leadership review expected next April. Whether Mulcair will stay on as party leader is to be determined, Harris said.

"We'll see what happens. Mr. Mulcair, I think, did a stalwart job, he was very determined. He was the right person to lead the party into the election."

Harsh words for Cleary

Harris weighed in on his former NDP caucus colleague and fellow Newfoundlander Ryan Cleary's jaw-dropping decision Friday to run as a provincial Progressive Conservative candidate in the province's election Nov. 30.

"This is a guy who was on a stage with me on election night, talking about how proud he was to be a part of the NDP family," Harris said. 

Defeated NDP MP Ryan Cleary is seeking the Tory nomination in the district of Windsor Lake. (CBC)

"The leader of the NDP was out knocking on doors for him during this election campaign. I don't think it sits very well with the hundreds and hundreds of people, New Democrats — provincial and federal — that worked on his campaign, that donated to his campaign," he added.

"This is certainly a betrayal. I think his credibility is pretty low at this point and I'm sorry to see it happen."

Will Harris run again?

Harris himself has no short-term political plans, but said he will spend the next few months thinking about his next move.

"One never knows. It's all politics, it's always interesting," he said.

"It's a great job, but it's also an important job and we need people who want to do the job and who want to serve the people."


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