(St. John’s) Newfoundland and Labrador becomes the fourth Canadian province to enter elections during a pandemic.
Prime Minister Andrew Furey officially announced on Friday evening that voters will be called to the polls on February 13.
This will be the province’s first winter ballot since February 1999, when Liberal leader Brian Tobin was reelected.
Like the latter, and as in the three recent elections in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and New Brunswick, Mr. Furey has his eyes on securing a majority.
The surgeon was elected in August to replace Dwight Ball as leader of the ruling Liberals. By law, an election must be called by the end of his first year as prime minister.
He asked Chief Justice Deborah Fry of Newfoundland and Labrador, who was acting in the absence of the Lieutenant Governor, to dissolve the Legislative Assembly at around 3:10 p.m. local time on Friday.
Mr Furey argued that Newfoundland and Labrador’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 can serve as a national example. He says he chose to hold the poll on a Saturday to give voters time to go to the polls and avoid crowds at polling stations.
Its main opponent will remain the Progressive Conservative Party, led by lawyer Ches Crosbie, son of the famous politician known for his outspokenness John Crosbie.
At a press conference just before Mr. Furey’s, Mr. Crosbie said the province was “on the brink of a financial abyss” even before the pandemic.
He intends to unveil in the coming days his own plan to revive the economy. “A Progressive Conservative government led by me would be a job creation machine,” he said.
In an interview on Friday, Conservative campaign manager Shawn Skinner said that in the current health environment, the party will not have a bus to tour the province. “It would be a walking Petri dish,” he illustrated. Rather, they will rely on events broadcast online and door-to-door with respect for physical distancing.
The provincial New Democratic Party, led by economist Alison Coffin, made gains in the last general election in May 2019, winning three seats in the Legislature after fielding just 14 candidates in the province’s 40 ridings.
The party plans to present at least 30 candidates this time around, according to the New Democrat campaign manager.
When dissolved, the Liberals held 19 seats and the Progressive Conservatives 15 seats. The NDP had three and there were also three independents.