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article imageYvonne Jones easily defeats Peter Penashue in Labrador byelection

By Karl Gotthardt     May 14, 2013 in Politics
Saint John's - Liberal candidate Yvonne Jones easily defeated former Conservative Party Cabinet Minister Peter Penashue in Labrador. Penashue, who had gambled that voters would prefer a representative at the government table over a backbencher came a distant second.
Yvonne Jones won the riding by a large margin and handed the Conservative Party of Canada its sole byelection defeat of a conservative held seat. Labrador has been a traditional liberal riding, which Penashue won by a mere 79 seats in the 2011 general election.
Penashue was forced to resign after allegations of irregularities in campaign spending. Prior to his resignation he was Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
Penashue gambled that the voters in Labrador would forgive him and return him to his seat and gambled that voters would prefer a representative at the cabinet table over a backbench Liberal. The voters gave him a resounding NO and left Newfoundland Labrador (NL) as the only province without an MP with the ruling conservatives.
CBC reported that with 91 percent of the polls reporting Yvonne Jones had garnered 5,814 votes to Penashue’s 3,922, which represents 48 percent of the overall vote, with the conservative candidate receiving 33 percent and the NDP just 19 percent.
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (GPC) announced earlier that the GPC would not field a candidate for this byelection in order to avoid vote splitting among Canada's opposition parties, an idea rejected by both Justin Trudeau (LPC) and Thomas Mulcair (NDP). The result calls into question Mulcair's ability to gain any traction outside of Quebec.
The election was seen as a test for the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) and Justin Trudeau, but conservative spin masters opined that this election showed that the parties fortunes have dipped since Trudeau's election as leader and that Jones should have won by a much wider margin.
When Monday's results came in, Conservative spokesman Fred DeLorey issued an emailed statement commenting on the "collapse" of Liberal support compared to earlier polls — something he attributed to Trudeau.
"As we know, majority governments do not usually win by-elections," DeLorey said.
"In fact, Liberals have won the riding of Labrador in every election in history except for two, so we are not surprised with these results."
Jones has been a fixture in Labrador since the 1990s, when she represented the provincial district Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair in the provincial legislature for 17 years, and also served as provincial liberal leader.
After her election victory, Jones told supporters at a victory party in Happy Valley Goose Bay that she is the first person to beat the Harper government in a byelection.
“When I was reflecting on this election win tonight, I was saying, ‘You know, I'm the first person in the country to beat the Harper government in a byelection,"
The jury is out on what national implications this byelection will have. What is clear is that voters in Labrador rejected Penashue's argument that they would be better of with a candidate at the cabinet table and the win is a boost for Justin Trudeau's momentum, despite conservative spin.
More about Canadian Politics, Penashue, Newfoundland labrador, Byelection
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