Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tories' 12 Years in Office Faces Challenge in Newfoundland and Labrador Election

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tories' 12 Years in Office Faces Challenge in Newfoundland and Labrador Election

Article excerpt

Campaign ends in Newfoundland and Labrador


CORNER BROOK, N.L. - Voters in Newfoundland and Labrador head to the polls Monday after a campaign that saw the Liberals argue the province's 12-year-old Progressive Conservative government is due for replacement.

The Tories are a long way removed from the days when Danny Williams held command of the province's politics. The party has had three different leaders since he stepped down five years ago.

"One of the narratives that has emerged throughout this campaign is the Conservatives have governed in an arrogant way," said Russell Williams, who teaches at Memorial University.

Kelly Blidook, also a professor of political science at Memorial University, said Tory Leader Paul Davis has been able to attract public support since he was sworn in last fall, but it may not be enough to overcome the overall perception of the party's performance in recent years.

"People aren't willing to vote Tory, even though many say they haven't done a bad job. It's kind of odd," he said.

Throughout the 25-day campaign, the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP have argued the economic policies promoted by Liberal leader Dwight Ball, the perceived frontrunner, are based on fantasy figures.

While Ball has effectively reminded voters of accumulated scandals and mistakes by the Tories, Williams said in an interview.

The political observers say the critique of the Tories has been building gradually since Williams was replaced by Kathy Dunderdale when he left.

Dunderdale brought the party a third landslide victory in 2011, but her popularity fell sharply over a series of missteps, which included a bill that ushered in tighter restrictions on access to information laws.

Extended provincewide power blackouts during a frigid stretch of the 2014 winter led to high-profile defections to the Liberals and a series of byelection losses for the Progressive Conservatives.

Meanwhile, the collapse in oil prices has hammered the province's economy, forcing Davis to bring in a budget earlier this year that includes spending cuts and a ballooning deficit projected at $1. …

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