Former Labrador Party candidate hopes to get back in the game

Derek Montague
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Brandon Pardy hoping for Liberal nomination in Lake Melville

In 2003, Brandon Pardy was just 25-years-old and had his eyes set on being elected Lake Melville MHA for the newly formed Labrador Party.

It nearly became one of the greatest underdog stories in the province’s political history. Pardy was much younger than the politician and the Labrador Party had no chance of forming a government, since it only ran candidates in the four Labrador ridings.

Brandon Pardy nearly became one of the province’s youngest MHAs in 2003, when he was a candidate for the Labrador Party. Now, 11 years later, he hopes to become Lake Melville’s Liberal candidate in the next election.

But the race turned out to be surprisingly close. Pardy finished with 1,485 votes, a less than 300-vote margin from the winner, PC candidate John Hickey. 

Pardy finished better than Liberal candidate Ken Anthony, who received 1,126 votes.

A few years after Pardy’s near-win, however, the Labrador Party folded.

Now, in an ironic twist, Pardy plans to run for the same party he was running against 11 years ago. Whenever the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador calls for nominations in the Lake Melville district, Pardy’s name will be on the list of candidates.

“I have concerns, because I did run against the Liberals in 2003. So how do you reconcile that with running for the party that you ran against?” asked Pardy.

“Honestly, if the Labrador Party were here and the people were thoroughly engaged in it, I probably wouldn’t be in this spot. But it isn’t and we need to work with what we have. And I think there’s an opportunity to work with the Liberal party.”

People who supported Pardy when he was with the Labrador Party may have a hard time seeing him as a member of a mainstream political group like the Liberals.

Pardy feels the provincial Liberals have changed for the better since the days of Roger Grimes in the early 2000s. After talking to several people involved in the Liberal party, he thinks he could fit in with the caucus.

“There’s an openness to have someone like me there that doesn’t mind challenging the system,” said Pardy. “I’ve never subscribed to the idea that you have to be on government’s side to get pavement (or anything else).

“They’ve come a long way from where they were in 2003. (The Labrador Party was) absolutely 100 per cent opposed to anything Liberal. And they were at the end of their governance. A lot of governments get arrogant, to be quite honest, about how they treat citizens, about how they treat policy development and all that kind of stuff.”

In December, Pardy moved back to Labrador from Ottawa, where he worked with the federal government as a lands-claim negotiator.

People still associate him with the Labrador Party and he is reminded of it everywhere he goes.

“So I couldn’t do anything in Labrador, I couldn’t even go to the Co-op without people automatically assuming that I’m back to be involved in politics,” said Pardy.

“Ever since December to basically … when I announced my nomination, people have been approaching me, (asking) ‘What’s The Labrador Party doing? Are you going to run as an independent?’”

If Pardy get elected as an MHA in the next provincial election, his top priority will be Labrador unity and political engagement, two things he feels are lacking in the Big Land.

“I still believe Labrador unity is our No. 1 one issue here,” he said. “We don’t get along with each other. We need to work together. There’s 27,000 of us and there’s 32 communities …”

In terms of political engagement, Pardy wants MHAs to play a bigger role in sparking dialogue.

“You don’t go in there and say, look, I’ve been elected and, therefore, I speak for everyone. I think that’s the absolute worst way for people to be engaged in their democracy,” said Pardy.

“If people are protesting outside your office, go hang out with them, find out what’s going on. If there’s 20 people protesting, (there are) probably 400 people that agree with them.”

Winning the nomination in Lake Melville won’t be easy. It’s been 15 years since the people there have elected a Liberal MHA. But the resurgence of the party and its high polling numbers has generated interest in central Labrador.

Nominations for the district haven’t been called yet and there are already several people who have expressed interest in being a candidate, including Perry Trimper, Waylon Williams, Jackie Compton Hobbs and Lori Dyson — the wife of Torngat Mountains MHA Randy Edmunds. 

 

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

Organizations: Labrador Party, Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Lake Melville, Labrador, Ottawa

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  • BJM
    June 30, 2014 - 14:07

    Ah, a familiar in the scene! Better than what we have in Lake Melville now. Go for it Brandon Barney M