While Liberal governments have fallen in P.E.I., New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec, this week voters in Newfoundland and Labrador went against the so-called conservative “blue wave.”
But within the realm of N.L. politics, the victory of the governing Liberals also bucked a different trend — the party received a minority mandate, something that hasn’t happened in the province since the heyday of disco.
The Liberals’ grip on the House of Assembly was weakened from 27 to 20 seats in Thursday’s vote, while the Progressive Conservatives ended up with a total of 15 seats. Three New Democrats and two independent candidates were also elected.
Speaking with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Premier-designate Dwight Ball pointed out that while it may be rare for N.L. to have a minority government, it’s not uncommon federally, and it’s in line with what’s happening across the region.
WATCH: N.L. elects the first minority government in decades
“We have three minority governments within Atlantic Canada right now and in Nova Scotia, a government with a two-seat majority,” he pointed out.
As he starts his second term in office, Ball continues to face what he acknowledged were unprecedented challenges. The province is facing staggering debt, the continuing fallout of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, as well the country’s highest unemployment rates.
Ball was optimistic about the future, however, and said his plan is working.
WATCH: Ball says new mandate is a ‘new era of politics’ in province
“Newfoundland and Labrador in 2019, will lead the country in GDP growth,” he said. “We’re seeing jobs coming to Newfoundland and Labrador. We’re seeing investment coming to our province.”
He said the the entire legislature needs to co-operate to address the province’s challenges.
WATCH: Newfoundland PC leader calls minority ‘unique
Voters “made it loud and clear that they are asking us to work on their behalf. And in order for us to work on their behalf, we must work together,” Ball said.
However, Tory leader Ches Crosbie, a well-known lawyer and son of politician John Crosbie, refused to concede on election night.
He later struck a different tone, and apologized for not congratulating the premier on election night.
The election was called just a day after the Liberals tabled their budget — a move that Ball told Mercedes Stephenson he doesn’t regret.
“This year’s budget was part of the larger plan that we put in place to bring growth and sustainability to Newfoundland and Labrador. That plan is working. Our budget in 2019 was a part of that,” he said.
WATCH: Newfoundland PCs Crosbie slams snap election
And as for the blue wave narrative, when asked about the recent shift to the right at provincial ballot boxes, Ball didn’t cast blame on the federal Liberals for the seats his party lost.
He said he heard concerns from voters involving all levels of government.
“We [heard] challenges, you know, throughout this campaign. Many of them would have been on provincial issues. Some of them would have been on federal issues. Some of them would have been even on, you know, just community issues,” he said.
With files from Mercedes Stephenson, Global News