Lorraine Michael wouldn’t say what she believes Bernice Hancock’s chances are in an upcoming byelection for St. George’s-Stephenville East, but believes she is the strongest candidate for the district.
The leader of the NDP Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, who helped kick off Hancock’s campaign at her headquarters on Main Street in Stephenville on Friday, said she doesn’t know how voters in the district can choose anyone else.
“We’re happy to have Bernice as our candidate as she’s firmly rooted in the community and has been here and working with women’s organization and other groups for 30 years,” Michael said.
Hancock, who ran for the NDP in the same district back in the 2011 general election, feels her chances are better this time around, especially since she went up against the incumbent PC Joan Shea and political heavyweight, Kevin Aylward, who was the Liberal leader at the time.
Hancock accumulated in the area of 700 votes in that election.
This time around there is no incumbent and the Liberals have chosen a candidate in Scott Reid, who Hancock said is basically part of the political machine.
As for the chances of her party forming the government this time around, Michael said all the NDP can do as a party is stay focused on the needs of the people in the province.
“We (party) will continue to hit on issues like lack of affordable housing and home care, on the working poor and the need for a higher minimum wage,” she said. “As we do that the people will show us their support.”
Michael said the weakness of the Progressive Conservative party is creating an opening for the NDP, and the Liberals poor record in the House of Assembly is also helping out.
“We’re (NDP) going to be seen as an alternative from the poor track records of the other two parties,” she said.
Michael said the issue of hydraulic fracturing has been on the forefront for her party since the beginning of it being proposed for this province. She said questions are being raised about it internationally and she believes a moratorium on fracking has to continue.
While Reid has been elected as the Liberal party nominee for the byelection, the PCs haven’t called for nominations yet. However, Wally Childs of Kippens, who is principal of Our Lady of Mercy School in St. George’s, has publicly announced he is seeking the nomination.
Childs said he has been doing the best he can for children in the area in his position as an educator for the past 20 years, and would now like represent all residents of the St. George’s-Stephenville East District.
Mayor Tom O’Brien of Stephenville is also said to be running for the PC nomination, but when contacted by The Western Star, he wouldn’t confirm or deny, only saying “stayed tuned.”
The byelection came about as a result of the resignation of Joan Shea in early June. The call for the byelection has to be made by Aug. 2 and the latest date for the byelection is Sept. 2.
Premier Tom Marshall gave no hints on Thursday when asked when the byelection to replace Joan Shea will be held.
“Soon,” was his response to the question during a funding announcement in Corner Brook. “It’s summertime. I don’t know if we should have it quick, or we should wait till the fall.”
Marshall said he expects the call for nominations to seek a PC candidate for the district will come before the byelection is called.