Liberal Leader Dwight Ball addresses supporters Monday night in Corner Brook.
There were tepid cheers and perfunctory applause at the Liberal victory party in Corner Brook when CBC News declared the Liberals had won a majority government.
The result was a foregone conclusion for party organizers well before Monday night, and the real question for supporters watching the results come in was more about how big the majority would be, and which Tories and New Democrats would eke out seats in opposition.
In the end, Liberals fell short of some of the more optimistic predictions, but secured a solid majority government with 31 seats; seven Progressive Conservatives and two New Democrats will make up the opposition in the legislature.
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball clearly had those nine defeated Liberals on his mind as he waited to enter the small ballroom at the Greenwood Hotel in Corner Brook.
“It’s a little disappointing with some of the losses that we saw tonight, but I respect the choices that have been made in the various districts,” he told reporters as he waited. “You know, we’re ready for this, and we’re looking forward to what a stronger tomorrow actually looks like.”
Ball’s victory speech was, in large part, focused on the same themes that dominated the Liberal campaign — “a stronger tomorrow,” “500,000 advisers” and working hard “so we don’t miss another opportunity, ever.”
Ball also made special mention of women in politics, saying 10 female politicians elected were simply not enough for a legislature of 40, and he also made special mention of his wife and mother, two strong women in his life.
Ball’s mother, Evelyn, stood to Ball’s right, next to the podium, occasionally resting her hand on his as he delivered his victory speech. Her other son, Dean, was nearby, and speaking to journalists, she became tearful that her oldest son, David, wasn’t alive to see Dwight win election as premier.
In his victory speech, Ball also called for people from all parties to work together following what was quite a nasty election campaign.
“Regardless of what political stripe, I am opening the door to you — not to ask you to change your politics, but to come together as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” he said.
“And now is time for us to cast aside the fear of what can’t be done, and look to what we know we can do together.”
All the same, there were a few Liberals in Corner Brook Monday who were happy to have some political opposition, and that the early possibility of a Liberal sweep didn’t come true.
Roger Jamieson, who unsuccessfully ran for a Liberal nomination earlier this year, said he thought that as the media reported a massive Liberal lead in the polls, voters pulled back.
Jamieson said a solid opposition, and maybe a New Democrat or two, is actually a good thing for the Liberals.
“I think we’re all better for that,” he said. “We do need a decent opposition for the parliamentary system to work.”
The new Liberal government will inherit a massive structural deficit, low oil prices, a looming demographic crisis and a host of other issues.
But Monday night in Corner Brook, it was all jubilation. Again and again, supporters said voters embraced “change,” and even if it’s not quite clear what that change is, the Liberals are in.