Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair by-election

Location of riding in Labrador

Labradorians in the riding of Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair will be heading to the polls to elect a new Member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly (MHA) on Tuesday. As you may recall, last month, the riding’s previous MHA, Yvonne Jones, was elected in the federal Labrador by-election. Her election in that by-election has caused yet another by-election in the southeast coast of Labrador.

The Cartwright-L’Asnse au Clair is one of four ridings in Labrador, and is named for the two communities and either end of the riding- L’Anse au Clair in the south and Cartwright in the north. Although, L’Anse au Clair is only a small village of 192. In fact, no community in the riding has more than 550. That community is L’Anse au Loup in the south end of the riding.

The riding is also the safest Liberal seat in the province. Jones won the biggest margin out of any Liberal candidate in the 2011 election. And, Liberals have held this seat for all but six years since confederation in 1949. And, 3 of those years were when Jones held the seat as an Independent before re-joining the Liberal caucus. The Tories have never held the seat, and neither has the NDP. The remaining 3 years (1972-1975) was when Mike Martin of the Labrador Party held the riding.


1) H.A. Horwood, Liberal (1949-1952)
2) F.W. Rowe, Liberal (1952-1956)
3) Geo. Sellars, Liberal (1956-1962)
4) G.I. Hill, Liberal (1962-1971)
5) J. Harvey, Liberal (1971-1972)
5) M. Martin, Lab. Party (1972-1975)
6) Ian Strachan, Liberal (1975-1979)
7) Eugene Hiscock, Liberal (1979-1989)
8) D. Dumaresque, Liberal (1989-1996)
9) Ms. Yvonne Jones, Independent (1996-1999); Liberal (1999-2013)

Poll map from the 2011 provincial election

When I discussed the Labrador by-election last month, I mentioned how the demographics of the south and east coasts of Labrador are different. The south coast (from L’Anse au Clair to Red Bay) is much more similar to the Island of Newfoundland in that the people are more of Anglo-Irish descent while the east coast (from Cartwright to Lodge Bay) are mostly of Metis ancestry. What does unite the two regions is that they are both very Liberal. The difference being that the east coast is “very, very Liberal” while the south coast is merely “very Liberal”. In the 2011 election, all but two polls on the east coast of the riding had Jones winning by more than 70% of the vote. In one community, Paradise River, 100% of the voters cast their ballots for Jones (there were only 4 votes). I think when that happens in federal elections, the poll is usually merged for confidentiality reasons. (Now we know how every single voter in Paradise River voted!). In contrast, only 2 of the polls on the south coast had Jones winning by more than 70%. One poll (one of the L’Anse-au-Loup polls) event went for the Tory candidate!

Now looking ahead to Tuesday’s by-election, it would be a huge surprise if the Liberals lost it. Historically, none of the other two parties (the Progressive Conservatives or the New Democrats) have any strengths here. The last provincial poll conducted over a week ago showed the Liberals polling at 36% province-wide which is 17 points higher than the last election. While the NDP is also polling high provincially (37%), their lack of history here means they probably don’t stand a chance. And the Tories are polling province-wide at 27%, which is 19% lower than last election, so they appear to also not have a chance. The Liberals are running Charlottetown (Labrador) native and employment counsellor Lisa Dempster as their candidate. The Tories are running 2003 and 2007 candidate Dennis Normore from L’Anse au Loup. And, the NDP is running L’Anse au Clair native Jason Spingle, a trade unionist. Polls will be closing at 7:30pm in the parts of the district that observe Atlantic Time and at 8pm in the parts of the district that observe Newfoundland Time. This translates to 6:30pm Eastern.