Liberal vender St. John’s East, as Conservatives want to claim the Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame

The Liberal candidate Joanne Thompson has won St. John’s East and replaced the outgoing NDP MP Jack Harris. (Terry Roberts / CBC)

The Liberals have picked up a seat in Newfoundland and Labrador while towing on the stronghold coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame as riding remains unnamed Tuesday morning.

St. John’s East Liberal candidate Joanne Thompson defeated New Democratic Party candidate Mary Shortall by 43.7 percent of the vote at the time of the announcement to Shortall’s 34.7 percent, with all but two of the riding polls reported.

“Change is possible, we can move forward together, we can work on partnerships, and there is so much we can when we sit at the table and we say we have to work together,” Thompson said in a speech, thanking volunteers and supporters.

Tuesday morning, Thompson said she was “pretty humble” about her victory. She said she was ready to move St. John’s East against “what I think will be an exciting, green economy.”

Thompson also defeated Conservative candidate Glenn Etchegary and People’s Party of Canada candidate Dana Metcalfe.

Shortall did not concede the election Monday night and asked supporters to wait until tomorrow. Early Tuesday, however, she congratulated Thompson on the victory.

“The voters of St. John’s East have decided, and I respect that. This is what our democracy looks like,” Shortall told CBC Radio St. John’s Morning Show.

St. John’s East is the only riding in Newfoundland and Labrador where an established man did not run. The province’s six other clearings all had sitting Liberals, five of whom were returned to office Monday night in an election in which the Liberals remained in power with another minority government.

Shortall, the president of Newfoundland and the Labrador Federation of Labor – on leave from his post during the campaign – replaced outgoing Jack Harris as a candidate for the new Democratic Party.

During a stop for St. John’s campaign in early September discussed NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s ties to Atlantic Canada and his friendship with Harris.

Harris retired after a long political career that began with a breakthrough in 1987 in elections. He had St. John’s East seat from 2008 to 2015, when he was defeated by Liberal Nick Whelan in a disturbance. In 2019, Harris won the backrest.

Shortall said NDP support remained strong in riding and that she did not rule out another attempt at federal policy.

“I have been inspired by so many people during this experience that I would be unhappy if I did not seriously consider doing it again,” Shortall said.

The Liberals wanted to repeat the success of 2015 in St. John’s East with Thompson, the former CEO of Gathering Place in St. John’s. John’s. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland both campaigned with Thompson in Newfoundland.

Before the election was called in late July, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole visited riding for campaign with Etchegary.

Conservatives may win in NL for the first time since 2011

As of Tuesday morning, there was still no declared winner in the riding of the Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame.

At the time of publication, Conservative candidate Clifford Small maintained a 569-vote lead over Liberal incumbent Scott Simms, with 99.6 percent of opinion polls reporting.

Simms had won every federal election since 2004.

Clifford Small could become the first Conservative candidate to win a federal seat in Newfoundland and Labrador in a decade. (Clifford Small / Facebook)

In an interview with CBC News on election night – before the result was called – Small said he believed his support for mining, rotational workers and seniors would be the key to ousting Simms.

“We had a positive message. A message for growth for our riding here,” he said. “I think the voters thought our party would be the best choice to promote mining.”

Tuesday morning, with the result still unfinished, Small said he thought his leadership would hold, and thanked Simms, saying the Liberals ran a “very clean, respectful and honest campaign.”

Small, who owns several Smittys restaurants and runs a fishing business, said the economy was the most important issue he heard from voters during the campaign.

“In their eyes, it was a negative change in 2015. And they know we can make a positive change in the future.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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