Bennett wins Virginia Waters

James
James McLeod
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Liberals take seat from PCs in provincial byelection

Under normal circumstances, 40 votes is not a decisive victory, but there was nothing normal about the circumstances around the Virginia Waters byelection, and on Wednesday night when all the votes were counted, the Liberals were calling it a resounding triumph.

Liberal candidate Cathy Bennett didn’t win by much — 40 votes in the final tally — but it was enough to snatch away former premier Kathy Dunderdale’s old seat in the House of Assembly. On Wednesday night, the Liberals were calling it a resounding victory.

A year ago, the Liberals had six seats in the House of Assembly, and the party leadership was uncertain. Today, they have 12 MHAs and they sit atop a commanding lead in the polls.

Wednesday, the Liberals were able to snatch away Virginia Waters — former premier Kathy Dunderdale’s old seat — and when final numbers came in, the Grits were jubilant.

“This night really built on a tremendous amount of Liberal momentum that has been sweeping across the province, and across Canada, and I’m honoured to be part of that momentum in the district of Virgina Waters,” Bennett told a cheering crowd at the Hampton Inn. “Tomorrow, the work begins, and there is so much for us to do together. I’m ready for the challenge, and I look forward to representing Virginia Waters — all the people of Virginia Waters — now and in the next general election as part of a Liberal government.”

For weeks, the stakes of Wednesday’s byelection were amped up within political circles. It was the first big test for the Tories since Dunderdale resigned. It was a chance for the Liberals to prove they still had the momentum, and that they could win in St. John’s — traditionally Tory and New Democrat turf.

As the results trickled in, Bennett and Tory candidate Danny Breen remained neck and neck. Nobody was sure who had won until the results from the last poll came in.

Supporters at the Hampton Inn huddled around a screen watching the numbers update, and then erupted into cheers when the final tally was posted.

Bennett received 1,932 votes, Breen got 1,892 and NDP candidate Sheilagh O’Leary got 1,021.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” MHA Lisa Dempster said.

Dempster will now have another woman in the Liberal caucus. Until now, she was surrounded by only men.

“Not only do we have another female at the table, but we’ve got a very credible person at the table.”

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball called this a hat trick for the Liberals — in the past year they’ve won three byelections, two of them in districts formerly held by senior Progressive Conservatives.

“Cathy Bennett is a clear winner tonight in Virginia Waters,” he said. “Liberals are listening to the people in our province. We will deliver, and Newfoundland and Labrador will be a better province because of the next Liberal government, which Cathy Bennett will be part of.”

Earlier in the day, Ball told reporters that Bennett would be a key part of a future Liberal government.

“I see Cathy Bennett as a frontbench minister with a Liberal government and she brings a lot,” he said.

The voters won’t give her a long leash, though. When the PC party’s leadership still in flux, there will have to be a general election by July 2015, so Bennett will have to be back defending her seat next year.

In her victory speech, though, she told residents of the district what to expect from her in the meantime.

“No matter who you voted for, I am your MHA and I promise to serve you with strong leadership and integrity,” she said. “I will always listen and act on the issues that affect you, and the ones that are most important to you and your family.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Hampton Inn, Progressive Conservatives, NDP

Geographic location: Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Josepi
    April 25, 2014 - 06:41

    If Cathy really cared, she would offer a better wage that locals could actually afford to live on, instead of paying low wages to maximize profit for herself. How can you represent "the people", if this is your solution to an employment issue?

  • Realistic
    April 10, 2014 - 14:53

    Oh give me a break, why do you think there's foreign workers working at fast food establishments, because our precious locals are too good to flip burgers ! Cathy is running a business that she started as a " burger flipper". She had a problem, she couldn't get staff, she found a viable solution. Isn't that we want from our politicans, solutions to problems. The next time your in line at McDonalds or any other restaurant you may be looking a future premier, no matter what colour their skin is

  • Mudder I'm stuck
    April 10, 2014 - 12:52

    We'll be hearing more of that coming soon with Bennett in Power. More and more young people coming out of school will struggle to find work cuz Cathy gives all her jobs away to the foreign workers she brings in to flip her burgers. Unreal that this woman is now in power. I'll get my children to become English as a Second Language teachers I guess, surely we will need them for the workers she employs.

  • Soccer Powerhouse
    April 10, 2014 - 12:47

    Another story today in the Telegram today indicated the CBS STrikers were taking a leave of absence for a year. That's fine, with Cathy bringing over more and more foreign workers to work at her stores and giving away local jobs, we'll have enough soon for a great soccer team up in CBS. Now that she's in power, she will bring more and more here to take away employment from our youth. VW voters, big mistake.

    • Art
      April 11, 2014 - 09:44

      From what I here is our youth don't want to work for McDonalds, I wonder why!!! I ask why do they have a high turn over rate?

  • calvin parsons
    April 10, 2014 - 11:19

    i could'nt be prouder for her.i believe she will do well and god knows she has the smarts needed.well done cathy.

  • Harry
    April 10, 2014 - 10:37

    Great day for Nfld. And Labrador with the defeat of Danny Green and the Progressive Conservative Party. Not even Danny Williams could stop that. For the rest of you playing with numbers a WIN IS A WIN! Get over it......

  • Terry Walsh
    April 10, 2014 - 10:03

    It never seems to amaze me when a party says they had a resounding win, tell me how is it that 1932 votes compared to 2913 votes against is a resounding defeat....something wrong with the Liberal's math. Tells me that most of Virgina Waters did not want Ms Bennett as their representative.

    • McLovin
      April 10, 2014 - 12:43

      Even though 2913 people voted against Ms. Bennett, you are forgetting the fact that an even greater number of people voted against Mr. Breen (2953) and Ms. O'Leary (3824). Either way you slice it, Ms. Bennett still won.

  • guy incognito
    April 10, 2014 - 09:32

    It's a sad, sad day for NL when McBennett wins a seat. Nothing but an opportunist.

  • Gerry.
    April 10, 2014 - 08:36

    The win for Cathy Bennett in Virginia Waters only means she won a few votes more than her opponents. What's interesting is that she is now a representative of the citizens of that district where 65 percent of the voters did not vote for her but for someone else. Who would want to be in such a position where 1932 want you, but 2913 don't want you? That is 'overwhelming' in reverse.

    • Tom
      April 10, 2014 - 11:09

      Gerry...your comment is laughable and I'm sure the circumstance would have been ok if it was in your favor...relax on the Liberal tide my friend!

  • Torey Nomore
    April 10, 2014 - 08:13

    Image a burger-flipping, Tory come Liberal, defeating two former councillors of the city of legends; don't say much about their record in the district! Get the message Dan & especially Sheila; they don't want you!

    • saelcove
      April 10, 2014 - 08:56

      Danny do not count anymore,,guess what goes around comes around,must be lots of sad faces at the telegram today,

  • Don McLean
    April 10, 2014 - 08:12

    Congratulations to Bennett and the Liberal Party.I see this as a sign that the people of NL want a change. When Danny resigned, I said that it is the beginning of the end for The P.C party. Personally I do think that we need a change because I was not impressed with Dunderdale and the P.C. Gov .

  • Torey Nomore
    April 10, 2014 - 08:11

    Image a burger-flipping, Tory come Liberal, defeating two former councillors of the city of legends; don't say much about their record in the district! Get the message Dan & especially Sheila; they don't want you!

  • Don McLean
    April 10, 2014 - 08:11

    Congratulations to Bennett and the Liberal Party.I see this as a sign that the people of NL want a change. When Danny resigned, I said that it is the beginning of the end for The P.C party. Personally I do think that we need a change because I was not impressed with Dunderdale and the P.C. Gov .

  • George Jackson
    April 10, 2014 - 07:09

    Congratulations to Bennett and the Liberal party.This should take the air out of the sails of the smug,arrogant PCs,especially Kent & Collins.The PCs threw everything they had at thi election & still lost - there isn't a safe PC seat in the province.

  • Steve
    April 10, 2014 - 06:28

    Everybody who is eligible to vote should be requited to do so, but put the option of None Of The Above (NOTA) on the ballot so they be allowed to express their displeasure with the selection presented and allow to have an administrative representation until the next election--taxpayers would save a fortune on salaries, perks and pensions alone.

  • Voter Turnout Under Fifty Percent
    April 10, 2014 - 06:21

    Move beyond the 40 vote gap. The real story here is less than half the eligible voters did not bother to vote. The public is disengaging from politics. That is the ongoing story here, and has been the story for a decade.

  • Scott
    April 10, 2014 - 05:40

    Sad day in N & L history, Cathy Bennett is supporters of the foreign workers policy, and people of VW let us down, by voting for her, No wonder we can't move forwards. Thank you VW, next time you at a fast food joint, And you don't see one our owns serving you. Its because of people like yourself.

  • Guy incognito
    April 10, 2014 - 05:40

    Worst decision ever virginia waters.