After a competitive Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election on Thursday, Premier Dwight Ball and his Liberal Party will be downgraded from a majority to a minority government, but the Progressive Conservatives plan to form a coalition to counter their control.
The Liberals clinched 20 projected seats, one short of establishing a majority. The PCs nearly doubled their 2015 election results from eight to 15 seats. New Democrats added one seat to their previous two and dual Independents — former Liberals — won their ridings.
PC Leader Ches Crosbie said that he will reach out to the other opposition members of the House of Assembly to form an alliance, saying that “I am not conceding victory to the Liberals” after all ballots were tallied.
Vowing that it will be the end of Ball as a premier and Liberal leader, Crosbie said that “they will have to struggle for the next months and years to hang on to power.”
It is not yet clear if Alison Coffin and her New Democrats and the two Independents would link-up with Crosbie, though if even if they did, there is not enough seats to overthrow the government as there are 40 seats in the parliament.
The leaders in opinion polling flipped back and forth between the Liberals and PCs since July 2016, but the last four polls conducted ahead of the election gave rookie party leader Crosbie and his PCs a small but growing lead.
The Liberals were looking to resist what is considered a “blue wave” across provincial elections but analysts widely reported that this is considered “anybody’s race”.
The premier’s victory speech was focused on unity as well as working past challenges as a province. He said constituents want to “see hard work, they want to see partnerships and they want to see humility.”
Now that the Liberals only hold half of the power of the province, Ball will have to go to Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote to form the next government. Foote has been accused of being partisan in a position that is supposed to be impartial.
Crosbie did not shy away from criticizing Foote, saying to his supporters “I might mention that the lieutenant governor has put herself in a constitutionally compromised position.”
Foote, the Queen of Canada’s representative in Newfoundland and Labrador, was accused of campaigning ahead of the election when she visited a school on the Burin Peninsula.
Then-PC candidate Bill Matthews criticized her for doing events in his district on May 14, a riding that Foote was once a Liberal representative for.
Foote has defended herself against the allegations of partisanship and said she is not campaigning or any government, but if the decision is up to her, there could be doubts around her ability to be constitutionally responsible.
With a Liberal win, it is the first time in several elections that a Liberal provincial government has survived a provincial election, in a move that the red party will claim is halting the so-called “blue wave” that has won recent major elections in Alberta and Ontario.