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NL VOTES: Newfoundland and Labrador NDP encouraged by election night hat-trick

New NDP leader Alison Coffin, who won her seat in St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi district, and St. John’s Centre district winner Jim Dinn raise their arms in victory at the NDP headquarters at the BIS building on Harvey Road following election results Thursday night.
New NDP leader Alison Coffin, who won her seat in St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi district, and St. John’s Centre district winner Jim Dinn raise their arms in victory at the NDP headquarters at the BIS building on Harvey Road following election results Thursday night. - Rosie Mullaley

‘We are a force’

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

What seemed to be a grim beginning at the NDP headquarters in St. John’s soon turned into an eruption of cheering.

The crowd that eventually swelled to about 100 people at the BIS Building on Harvey Road chanted, “Alison! Alison! Alison!” as NDP leader Alison Coffin took the podium

“This is a new era,” said Coffin, who made a come-from-behind victory, surpassing popular Liberal candidate George Murphy to win the St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi.

“I’m very grateful for what we have achieved tonight.”

She took 2,699 votes to Murphy’s 2,072. PC’s David Porter won 1,346 votes.

Coffin had been trailing when the early results rolled in. However, the mood changed drastically when she pulled ahead and sealed the win as more voted were counted later in the night.

To many people’s surprise, Murphy — who had won a seat for the NDP in 2011 — showed up at the NDP headquarters.

When asked why he decided to come, Murphy replied, “To concede and wish her all the best …

Former NDP leader and St. John’s Centre MHA Gerry Rogers hugs newly elected MHA Jim Dinn at NDP headquarters in St. John’s Thursday night. Dinn won in the district this year and will represent the NDPs in the House of Assembly.
Former NDP leader and St. John’s Centre MHA Gerry Rogers hugs newly elected MHA Jim Dinn at NDP headquarters in St. John’s Thursday night. Dinn won in the district this year and will represent the NDPs in the House of Assembly.

“Everybody has to be friends in a situation like this. Democracy speaks, and the people are always right.”

Retired teacher and former Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association president Jim Dinn won comfortably in St. John’s Centre, while Jordan Brown — heritage director of the local tourism organization Gateway Labrador — eked out a tight victory in Labrador West.

“Jim is the real deal …,” Coffin said of Dinn, who reclaimed the NDP’s seat in the district which was vacated when former leader Gerry Rogers stepped down.

“And an extra-special shout-out to Jordan Brown.”

Hoarse from all the campaigning, Coffin still spoke energetically as she addressed the crowd, pumping her fist in the air.

She thanked voters of her district and pledged “to fight every single day to reward your faith in me and the New Democrats of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

She also thanked the people across the province who voted for the NDP, which prompted the crowd to chant, “NDP! NDP! NDP!”

“Your belief in the New Democratic Party matters,” said Coffin, who thanked volunteers and former party leaders Michael, Rogers, Earle McCurdy and Jack Harris for creating a solid foundation.

Coffin also congratulated premier Dwight Ball on his minority government win, adding, “I think he has met a very formidable adversary.”

Coffin said the parties should be ready for the NDP in the future, “because we are a force.”

Coffin took over as NDP leader in March after Michael resigned.

“I decided to be the leader of the New Democratic Party because I know that we can create a better, fairer Newfoundland and Labrador,” Coffin said. “My vision is one of long-lasting prosperity for the people who live here. I promise to keep the people of this province at the centre of every government decision.”

She was then joined at the podium by Dinn, as both raised their arms in victory.

“To quote Hunter S. Thompson — ‘Wow! What a ride!” said Dinn, who garnered 2,218 votes, while PC Jonathan Galgay pulled in 1,301.

“The second is a Martin Luther King quote: ‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.'

“And I’ll be honest with you. It was never my vision to enter into politics. Yet, here I am. But I always believed in giving back to the community to make the lives of people who live there better…

“That’s what the NDP stands for — the citizens of this province matter.”

"I promise to keep the people of this province at the centre of every government decision.” — Alison Coffin 

Brown’s was a close win — five votes, and will be the subject of a recount. He took 1,366 votes to Liberal candidate Graham Letto’s 1,361.

The three district wins were huge for the NDP, which some speculated would be shut out of the House of Assembly this year, as the party only had 14 candidates run in the 40 districts.

“Let me say this — rumours of our demise are over-exaggerated,” party president Lynn Moore said, to cheers and screams from supporters.

“I’m so proud of our candidates, to the people who had the guts to put their name out there and campaign. I’m really, really thrilled with the way we ran this campaign.”

She made a jab at Ball, who she said called an early election on Holy Thursday, believing it would destroy the NDP.

“It didn’t bloody work,” she said.

Earlier, Moore said that the party is focusing on its strengths.

“We’re thinking about the positives. We know we have work to do and rebuilding to do. We know we need to engage more with rural Newfoundland, but we will continue to be committed.”

Cape St. Francis NDP candidate Peter Beck may have lost his district, but said he’s proud of what the party has accomplished and believes the NDP can form the next government in the near future.

“The way I look at it, if Alberta can elect an NDP government, I don’t see why we can’t. We are (partly) an island and we’re more social minded,” Beck said.

“I think it’s only a matter of time. We can achieve it. We just have to get organized and get a strategy together and fight for the public, fight for what they deserve.”

Among the supporters at the NDP headquarters was CUPE president Sherry Hillier, who said she, too, is hopeful about the NDP’s future.

“We will bounce back from this, most definitely,” Hillier said. “We will revamp and build our party back. We’ll learn from our mistakes and next election will be more prepared. We’ll have seats in all districts...

“We have a new leader now and she’s very energetic.

“In four years, we’re going to be a serious (contender). We’ll get there.”

Twitter: @TelyRosie


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