Two Liberal incumbents managed to hold on to their seats in the Conception Bay North region on election night in Newfoundland and Labrador, while a Progressive Conservative soundly defeated one of the Liberals’ now-former colleagues.
Steve Crocker, a prominent figure in the Liberal cabinet for the last four years, handily held on to Carbonear-Trinity-Bay de Verde, with his closest competition, PC candidate Jason Oliver, finishing approximately 1,800 votes behind him with almost all polls reporting. Crocker won approximately 60 per cent of the vote.
“It’s very humbling,” said Crocker, who was first elected to the House of Assembly in a 2014 byelection. “We worked hard over the last five years, being the MHA … It was a close election (provincially), but we worked hard and I’m going to get back up in the morning and go back to work as the MHA.”
In a rematch of the 2015 election, Pam Parsons earned a second-straight term in office for the Liberals, narrowly defeating former PC MHA Glenn Littlejohn by 350 votes.
Helen Conway Ottenheimer prevented a Liberal sweep in the region, claiming Harbour Main district in convincing fashion for the PCs. She defeated incumbent Liberal Betty Parsley by over 2,000 votes and finished with 60 per cent of all ballots cast. The win marks her family’s return to the House of Assembly, as her husband John Ottenheimer was a former Tory cabinet minister.
“I feel like it’s a privilege and an honour to be elected as MHA for the Harbour Main district,” said Conway Ottenheimer.
“I’ve always been involved in politics in some form, but I’ve never been an elected member, so this is new for me, but I’m confident it will be a great experience to represent the people to the best of my ability.”
Crocker and Parsons will be part of another Liberal government, though the party will miss out on a majority this time around.
The PCs, NDP and independents who were either in the lead or had won their seats matched the total for the Liberals when combined as of 11:30 p.m., with 20 each for the Liberals and the opposition members-elect. It would be the second minority government in the province’s history.
“Obviously, we have to work with the other parties,” Crocker said. “I think anybody who gets involved in politics is there for the same reason, and that’s betterment. I think we’ll work well as a minority government, and I’m looking forward to that challenge.”
Conway Ottenheimer, as a member of what will be the Official Opposition within a minority government, said she has been so focused on getting elected that it’s hard to think at such an early stage what her party’s role will be like in the House of Assembly.
“We’re going to have to see how that plays out,” she said.
Crocker also indicated he’s ready to work under the continued leadership of Dwight Ball as premier.
“I think it’s very clear tonight, and numbers that I’ve seen, Premier Ball came out on top tonight not only in his own district but within the province. When we formed government (in 2015), we had to make some tough choices, and certainly not choices that anybody would ever want to have to make. But there was a reality we faced, and I think we’ve turned a corner as a province. There are still challenges. But I’ve known Premier Ball for a long time. He’s a passionate Newfoundlander and Labradorian.”
The Compass attempted to contact Parsons after the results were in on election night, but she could not be reached for comment.