One vote can win an election. In Labrador West, it took just two.
New Democrat Jordan Brown has won the district of Labrador West after a judicial recount by a final count of 1,364 to 1,362 over Liberal opponent Graham Letto. Tory candidate Derick Shannon finished with 509 votes.
“Election day is finally here for Jordan,” said Brown, the newest member of the House of Assembly.
“That one is one for the record books. That was close if there ever was close.”
Judge David Orsborn made the decision after two days of counting and one morning of disputing individual ballots from 27 polls.
Orsborn told the court that 63 ballots had been set aside for review by lawyers for the recount. Of those, 20 went to Brown, 27 went to Letto, 10 for Shannon, and six ballots were rejected.
The victory confirms minority government rule in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Had Letto won, the 21 seats would have granted a majority to the Liberals. But the 20 Liberal seats confirm a minority until the next general election.
“It’s disappointing, but nevertheless I respect the results of the judicial review and we’ll move on from there,” said Letto, who was minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment prior to election day.
“It shows how important it is for people to get out an exercise their democratic right and vote.”
Letto, a politician since 1989, says he’s not ruling out any future returns to the political world, but it’s not something he’s thinking of right now.
The victory also means the NDP has three MHAs, the second most in the party’s history in the legislature.
NDP Leader Alison Coffin, waving a Labrador flag from the steps of the Supreme Court Friday, says it’s a big moment for the party.
“This is huge. It’s a real turning point for us. I think this is going to show we have more momentum and we’re really looking forward to the next byelection and the next election. We are only going to get better,” she said.
A date for Brown’s swearing in has yet to be set, but will likely come early next week. Also next week, it’s likely the legislature will vote on Budget 2019.
Brown has been observing the proceedings of the House of Assembly from the public gallery and says he’s ready for the vote.
Coffin says there needs to be a meeting to discuss whether or not the now three-person caucus will support the 2019 budget.
One question that remains is what will be done around the cabinet table.
When Premier Dwight Ball announced his minority government cabinet on May 31, he left one seat open for Letto. Children, Seniors, and Social Development minister Lisa Dempster currently holds the Municipal Affairs and Environment portfolio, which was reserved for Letto had the recount gone his way.
Ball says he hasn’t yet considered who will take Letto’s seat at the cabinet table.
“I’ve got to think about that now. We’ll get that done over the next few weeks or so,” he said.
Ball extended congratulations to Jordan Brown on his victory and thanks to Graham Letto for his service.
“It reminds us when we say every vote counts, and organization and getting people out to vote on election day,” he said.
“Sometimes you can be that one person who makes the determination of who your MHA is.”
- NL VOTES: Stunning defeat as NDP ousts Liberal incumbent in Labrador West
- UPDATED: 2019 Newfoundland and Labrador election isn’t finished just yet