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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fledgling Federal Party Steps Into Ottawa - NL Dispute

There has been a new turn of events in the ongoing dispute between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

This week the leader of the fledgling Newfoundland and Labrador First Party, Tom Hickey, informed the media that his party intends to field a full slate of candidates in the province when the writ is dropped for the next federal election. Hickey also indicated that he is hoping Premier Danny Williams will throw his support behind those candidates if the Premier is serious about shutting out the federal Conservatives in the Province.

It’s an interesting idea and clearly some pretty solid planning has gone into this move by the new party. If the Premier is serious about campaigning against the Harper government he might want to consider the offer extended to him by Mr. Hickey.

Ever since the Harper government backed out of its promise on non-renewable resources and unilaterally changed the Atlantic Accord contract, Williams has been telling everyone in the Province to vote ABC “Anybody but Conservative”. The slogan may be catchy but how valid is the ABC campaign? Where does it leave the voters?

The outcome of the recent provincial election proved beyond doubt that the majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are firmly behind the Premier in his battle with Ottawa and in the direction his government is taking locally. The overwhelming percentage of the popular vote Williams received speaks volumes about his ability to “encourage” the people to take a stand and to follow his lead. Now a Newfoundland and Labrador centric party is challenging the Premier to step up to the plate and use that popularity to help send 7 independent voices to Ottawa for the first time in the Province's history.

For Liberal, NDP or Green party supporters William's "ABC" campaign does’nt present much of a problem, they can simply continue to support the party of their choice in the next election, but what about anyone who would have traditionally voted Conservative? How many of them will feel comfortable casting a vote for one of the other parties? How many will be willing to do that and how many long time voters will be satisfied to simply stay at home?

What about the average person who is not a traditional conservative supporter but who feels, for whatever reason, that this time around neither of the other options available is a valid one for them? Where should they park their vote?

The NL First party is hoping to fill the void left in the wake of the Premier’s battle with the fed and are asking him to support their efforts.

The party is lead by a former, and well respected, provincial MHA and cabinet minister who represented the PC party for several years. The party itself espouses many of the same ideals and principles as the Williams government does and the party appears eager to take on the task of tackling a federal campaign.

For disenfranchised Conservative voters, or even the common Joe with no party affiliation, the NL First party might be the answer to their current dilemma, and to the Premier's. If Williams hopes to make his anti-Harper campaign a succesful one he may have found a way.

I’m not out to promote the NL First or any other party, but under the present circumstance NL First may indeed present an option in the next federal election if they do indeed field a slate of candidates answerable only to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and can gain the Premier's support.

NL First is saying, as many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians believe, that the seven federal MPs the province traditionally sends to Ottawa have never had a strong voice. This they say is because those MPs are part of a large national party answerable to the majority of voters in just about every other province except their own. In other words, national parties, no matter the stripe, will respond to the wishes of the majority in vote rich provinces like Ontario and Quebec, even if those wishes are in direct opposition to the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s hard to deny the truth in that.

The NL First party has positioned itself, not as a Bloc style separatist movement, but as an independent voice for their Province.

Mr. Hickey recently noted that his party has no intention of being obstructionist if elected. They intend to support or fight each piece of federal legislation on its own merits but always with an eye to how it might harm or benefit Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canada has reached a point in its history where minority governments are likely the norm rather than the exception. With the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Bloc and Green parties all vying for voter support, and with the latter two parties becoming increasingly popular all the time, the odds of winning a majority government are not what they once were.

The thinking behind hte NL First party is that by electing candidates who are not answerable to anyone outside the province, especially at a time when minority governments are likely, Newfoundland and Labrador will have a better chance of getting its message out, its needs met and perhaps, in the case of a close minority, even holding the balance of power when it comes to voting on key pieces of legislation.

As far as Premier Williams is concerned, he might want to give the NL First a good long look. This new party could provide him with the solution he needs if he hopes to address the concerns of anyone looking for a place to park their vote.

It’s often difficult for voters to stand behind a negative election campaign. If Williams chooses to do so, supporting the NL First party would allow the him to seamlessly and easily move from a negative, “Anybody but…” campaign to a much more positive and constructive one that supports a locally focused party and candidates.

Will Williams get onboard? Only time will tell, but it’s definitely a new twist in the battle between Williams and Harper and one well worth keeping an eye on.


Stephen said...

I couldn't find any news references to this. Do you have any links Myles?

Patriot said...

I doubt it made the news media at this point since Williams has yet to respond to the request by the party (at least as far as anyone other than he or the party exec knows).

I heard Mr. Hickey on VOCM Talk Back with Bill Rowe yesterday outlining this and it also appeared on the VOCM web site today.

That's about the only stuff in the public domain as far as I know until this post and any other site that might pick up the piece.

Patriot said...

Here's the blurb from VOCM.com if you're interested stephen:

The Newfoundland and Labrador First Party wants to get the premier on side, to support their candidates in the next federal election. Party Leader Tom Hickey told VOCM Back Talk with Bill Rowe, he hopes to get the premier to turn the ABC (Anyone But Conservative) campaign, into a positive campaign in favour of actual candidates and a party to represent the province's best interests. Hickey says he's been hearing from staunch PC's who are not going to vote Liberal, or NDP because they feel the candidates will still dance to their own party leader's tune anyway. Hickey believes Danny Williams has the power to give this province that Newfoundland and Labrador First voice in the House of Commons.

Ussr said...

Well Myles,I will say that this is make or break for me.

If Newfoundlanders and Labradorians do not stand-up for themselves now,then,I will simply walk away from hope and start to believe what all those Mainlander types have been saying.

- Culture Of defeat !!!
- Defeatist Attuide !!!
- Inability to Defend themselves!!!

Hearing such talk on the internet,and reading storys is all fine and dandy.But,will we have the collective will to throw off this mental shackel that we have and finally stand for ourselves!!!

Like a fool buying a lotttery ticket,I always kept hope and faith that someday I would see Newfoundland and Labrador with her own Party.A party that would in fact stand for the best interst of the people that she represents!!!

Well it seems that she is entering a new era in her history.Will we stand now and be counted or will we keep thease mental chains on our ankles and show canada how truely dependant we are!!!

This is a dire moment to for Williams.Will he now stand with those that he has worked with and throw his support behind them or has he played his last card!!!

This Myles,is turning out to be a key moment.Cover your eyes folk's cause i think that something is going to hit the fan!!!

Anonymous said...

I have to say, this is the first time I've heard of NL First but I plan to vote for them if they run in my riding.

I hope danny get's onboard. It's about time we stood up and were counted.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, this is the first time I've heard of NL First but I plan to vote for them if they run in my riding.

I hope danny get's onboard. It's about time we stood up and were counted.

Anonymous said...


flip said...

Maybe this time they'll get more than 31 votes.

Patriot said...

To the anon who sent in a comment today commenting on a specific person who recently ran in an election, I have opted not to publish that comment for the following reason.

The person identifed is not currently holding public office and since the election is over, not running for one. When that person was actively seeking office it was fair and appropriate to openly discuss him publicly but now that he is a private citizen like the rest of us, I don't believe it's appropriate to do so when the topic at hand is not directly related to him.


Wince said...

They have my vote. No way I will vote for any of the Federal parties. Liberals made a complete mess and Harper is a liar. NDP and Green will never, ever, get my vote.

So when the next election rolls around, I have no one to vote for but NL First.

babe in boyland said...


as laudable as the sentiment is, the "nl first" party is doomed to failure because even with total support from its target constituency - newfoundlanders and labradorians - it can only ever have 7 seats in the house of commons. it's not LIKE the bloq - quebec has enough seats to make a big difference to both house votes and elections.

if we are going to play federal politics, lets play federal politics. let's understand the shape of the field, the lines on it and and rules of the came.

Anonymous said...


I see it as a bit short sighted and innaccurate.

Canada is going to see a lot of minority governments in the years ahead. 7 MPs can make a big difference in that case.

Remember the independent MP who carried the deciding vote that saw the Atlantic Accord become a reality? That was one voice without party affiliations.

In a close minority 7 votes can be leveraged into getting concessions from the government side on specific issues in return for their support (as long as the legislation they are willing to support is reasonable).

You want to talk about the rules of the game there you go. Politics doesn't just happen in the House. It happens behind the scenes and 7 strong voices can be effective, probably more effective than having 7 puppets there who are only interested in impressing their party handlers and their federal leader.

Stephen said...

if we are going to play federal politics, lets play federal politics. let's understand the shape of the field, the lines on it and and rules of the came.

We've been doing this (the above suggestion) for the past 60 years and look where we are. Try again.

I believe that seven united NL MPs will be a stronger voice for this province. By withdrawing our support and consent for a miserable failure of a political system by not contributing to the power-blocks-that-be our message will get through.

Ussr said...

"if we are going to play federal politics, lets play federal politics. let's understand the shape of the field, the lines on it and and rules of the came."

October 18, 2007 4:17 PM - So Babe,you would agree then that things should just stay the same.Or,do you believe that we haven't learned enough from the last 58 years.

I would rather see our vote amount to the sham it is then to continue down the same road of "toe the line "party politics of what we have today.Has it really gotten us anywere.It works for those that have the power,not those that need it to make a better life for there familys.

AHHHH,life in Canuckistan !!!And the Balkinization of Canada.


What is coming ,or are we already there!!! Its really hard to say that they were wrong and we were right ,don't you think!!!Hope you enjoy it but I doubt it will get thru!!!

Calvin said...

I would have to agree October 18, 2007 5:51 PM,in a minority situation 7 seat's could mean the rise or fall of any governement.

Anonymous said...

William's needs to "help" this new party find 7 high profile and dependeble candidates that he will feel comfortable supporting and who have a solid chance of getting elected.

I'd love to see the impact of sending a group of NL voices to Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

Even if the NL-First party only elects 1 member to represent us. It will give the other elected members an option to cross the floor if they find themselves in conflict with the party line and what's in the best interest of their province and the constituents who elected him or her to represent them.