Halfway into the Newfoundland and Labrador election, none of the three main parties have released their platforms.
Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey told reporters earlier this week voters can expect a fully costed Liberal platform some time next week, “in plenty of time for people to digest and then look at where we stand before they go to the polls.”
A spokeswoman for Furey’s campaign said Friday the party hadn’t decided yet what day next week to release the document.
On Friday, the Progressive Conservatives said voters can expect their platform next week, while an NDP spokeswoman said the party’s platform will drop within the next few days.
Despite the lack of platforms, people are still voting early, chief electoral officer Bruce Chaulk said Friday. About 2,700 people, he said, have voted by special ballot in the roughly 60 district offices set up across the province; another 8,000 people, he added, have requested a special ballot by mail.
Completed mail-in ballots are starting to trickle in, he said, adding that he’s not keeping a tally just yet. “They’re just put in one area and that’s where they go from there,” he said in interview. “We’re more concerned about getting them out than waiting for them to come back.”
Those who don’t vote early will head to the polls on election day Feb. 13. Furey called the election on Jan. 15, drawing the ire of the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP, who say a winter pandemic election will dampen voter turnout.
Tory Leader Ches Crosbie once again criticized the election’s timing after health officials announced they were unable to identify the source of a COVID-19 infection that had bloomed into a cluster of five cases by Friday afternoon. Officials said the province had 13 active reported cases and reiterated that any untraceable case could be evidence of community spread.
Crosbie said in a statement Thursday, “We didn’t need to have an election in the dead of winter, during a pandemic.” He added that Furey must take steps to speed up the vaccination rollout and must work with Ottawa to ensure the province’s supply of vaccines remains stable.
Furey was required by law to call an election by Aug. 19, 2021. He addressed Crosbie’s statement Friday morning during a campaign stop in central Newfoundland: “We always knew that COVID’s going to go up and down,” Furey said. “The COVID numbers, relatively speaking, are still low.”
He said he and his party are following the advice of the province’s chief medical officer of health.
Newfoundland and Labrador is the fourth province to hold an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Brunswick had three active reported cases on its Sept. 14 election day, and Saskatchewan reported 650 active infections on its Oct. 26 election day. British Columbia, meanwhile, reported slightly more than 2,000 cases when voters went to the polls in that province on Oct. 24.
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