An “orange wave” is being credited with toppling a cabinet minister in St. John’s, as the impact of the NDP’s federal breakthrough continues to ripple across the country.
New Democrats have done better than expected in three provincial elections in a week: forming a large majority in Manitoba, holding the balance of power in Ontario and scoring their best result yet here.
“I’m disappointed to lose the St. John’s seats,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale, whose Progressive Conservatives won a trimmed majority Tuesday night. “ But you know, the Jack Layton Orange Wave, I think, made its impact here in the province and as a result we lost three sitting MHAs and a cabinet minister.”
The five seats won by the NDP was a long-awaited breakthrough that will give Leader Lorraine Michael, the sole New Democrat elected in 2007, a much stronger voice in the legislature.
The NDP momentum is at odds with that of provincial Liberals, who lost one of their two seats in Manitoba, were held to a minority in Ontario and barely eked out Official Opposition status in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Results fluctuated through the night here but, in the end, the NDP’s seat-count fell just short of the Liberal total.
When all the votes were counted the Liberals had added two seats, including toppling a cabinet minister of their own in Labrador, to win six. It was a small silver lining for the party. The Grits entered the race in debt and with no real hope of winning. Last-minute leader Kevin Aylward was crushed in his attempt to win a seat against a strong Tory incumbent.
The Liberals will have to continue their struggle to reinvent themselves while the NDP work to build on their stronghold in St. John’s.
“You can't have a historic victory without a history,” said Ms. Michael, who first took her St. John’s area district with a 2006 by-election win.
The party had set its sights on growth in the capital, encouraged by their federal counterparts ability to take two seats there in the spring. And its profile can only have been helped by the outpouring of grief at the death of federal leader Jack Layton, which sparked days of media coverage.
The federal effect may also have been a factor in Manitoba and Ontario.
Some analysts predicted the NDP would be facing its strongest challenge in a decade when Manitobans went to the polls Oct. 4. But once the votes were counted the New Democrats had won 37 of 57 seats. The Tory result was unchanged and the Grits lost one of their only two seats.
And in Ontario, the Liberals lost about one-quarter of their seats and just missed forming another majority government. The losses were distributed among the opposition parties, with the Tories going from 25 to 37 and the NDP climbing from 10 to 17.
With a report from The Canadian Press