The provincial Liberals have another reason to celebrate. The party that now sits in the House of Assembly as the Official Opposition has gained another member after Cathy Bennett, a former candidate for party leader, won in Virginia Waters over two credible candidates to the other main parties.
In the last few months, the Grits have won two other byelections and had four disgruntled members of other parties join their merry band. Not only that, Bennett won in a district that until a few months ago was represented by former premier Kathy Dunderdale.
Even more than a big gain for the Liberals, it is a major setback for the ruling Tories.
The PCs have done some fence mending with voters since Tom Marshall took over as premier but it wasn’t enough to hold onto the seat. The Liberal party should be encouraged by the victory in the middle of St. John’s where they haven’t had many victories, but the best the PCs can hope for is that this was a protest vote against Dunderdale’s tenure in office, which can be overcome with time and hard work.
As for Bennett, she will be a major cog in the Liberal administration if they can pull out a win in the general election that will be called before next summer. She is a successful businesswoman and brought the party a big win through dogged campaigning.
Liberal leader Dwight Ball will be dusting off a major seat at his cabinet table for Bennett if he becomes premier.
As for the NDP, they could be in even worse shape than the Tories who are about to choose a new leader and are gaining back their lost support. The NDP has imploded in the last year and members are back in their traditional spot in third place in voter support according to the polls.
The Liberals, meanwhile, must be counting the days until the writ is dropped for the general election.