Category Archives: Newfoundland

Liberals sweep Newfoundland and Labrador

Liberal leader Dwight Ball will become the 13th premier of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Liberal leader Dwight Ball will become the 13th premier of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The headline across Newfoundland and Labrador is that it will, once again, have a center-left government after a widely anticipated Liberal rout led by the incoming premier Dwight Ball. newfoundlandCanada Flag Icon

The headline across Canada, however, is that the Liberal Party (or provincial-level Liberal parties, some of which have greater or lesser affiliation with the national party) now controls every provincial government in Canada with two exceptions — Saskatchewan, where premier Brad Wall’s center-right Saskatchewan Party dominates politics and will likely return to a full third term after provincial elections in April; and Alberta, where premier Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party ousted a 44-year Progressive Conservative Party in May.

The November 30 provincial election leaves no Conservative or Progressive Conservative government in any of Canada’s provinces.


Ball’s Liberals won 57.2% of the vote to just 30.1% for the Progressive Conservatives, who even narrowly lost in the provincial capital of St. John’s, the Tory stronghold. It was the strongest Liberal victory in the province in 49 years (though not as strong as former premier Danny Williams’s Progressive Conservative rout in 2003), and it marked the most dramatic swing in the province’s electoral history.

In any event, though Newfoundlanders have been expecting a return to Liberal government for a while, it marks something of an apogee for the Canadian left just over a month since the country elected prime minister Justin Trudeau and a majority Liberal government. The most immediate post-election Forum poll from mid-November gave the Liberals a whopping 30-point lead — 55% of voters support Trudeau’s Liberals to just 25% for the Conservative Party and a staggering 12% for Thomas Mulcair’s New Democratic Party.

So the Trudeau honeymoon period is well underway, as he grapples with climate change in Paris with other world leaders and begins to implement a new policy direction for Canada.

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RELATED: The lessons of Newfoundland’s 1948 referendum

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 Ball, a former pharmacist who lost his first attempt to win a seat in the General Assembly in 2003, subsequently won a by-election contest in 2007 by a margin of just 18 votes in the northern electoral district of Humber Valley. After the Liberals failed to win the 2011 provincial election, Ball was appointed as interim leader, and he won the permanent leadership in the December 2013 leadership race. Ball’s platform included a promise to end Davis’s plan to raise the provincial sales tax from 13% to 15%, even though revenues are set to decline with global oil prices and, accordingly, the province’s newly found oil wealth.  Continue reading Liberals sweep Newfoundland and Labrador

The lessons of Newfoundland’s 1948 referendum

Imagine a North America with three, not two, countries north of the Rio Grande — the United States, Canada and… Newfoundland.newfoundlandCanada Flag Icon

Newfoundland!? That’s right. The Canadian outpost in the north Atlantic. Imagine today a proud population of nearly 530,000, now basking in the proceeds of a thriving offshore oil market, growing interest in summer tourism and a historical reliance on fisheries.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds — and if not for the votes of 7,000 Newfoundlanders on this day in 1948, the proudly sovereign country of Newfoundland and Labrador might exist today as a strategic Atlantic hub.


With an area slightly larger than Bangladesh or Greece, and with a population similar to that of Luxembourg and larger than the populations of Iceland, Belize, Brunei or Malta, the Canadian province today has a GDP per capita of nearly $68,000, in Canadian dollars (as of 2013) — much higher than the Canadian average of nearly $54,000.

On July 22, 1948, nearly 150,000 Newfoundlanders voted in the second of two fiercely contested referenda. They decided, however narrowly, in favor of confederation with Canada. On April 1 of the following year, Newfoundland and Labrador became the 10th Canadian province. The referendum brought to an end 15 years of uncertain status — that’s because in 1934, the essentially independent ‘Dominion of Newfoundland’ reverted back to colonial status after a financial crisis left the country unable to service its debt.

Sound familiar? Relations today between Greece and the rest of the eurozone (most especially Germany) are as strained as ever. With a third bailout effectively ceding control of Greek fiscal policy from prime minister Alexis Tsipras to European authorities, Newfoundland’s example holds instructive lessons on sovereignty and debt. The referendum — and the failure of the pro-independence campaign — also provides a data point for aspiring nations like Scotland and Catalunya.

Nearly 80 years of sovereignty

Newfoundland first won self-rule in 1854, with the introduction of ‘responsible government,’ and it acquired more formal dominion status (equivalent to the dominion status Canada held) in 1907. Continue reading The lessons of Newfoundland’s 1948 referendum

Programming note: Off to Newfoundland


Greetings from St. John’s, where I’m spending a little time through the middle of next week. newfoundland

Accordingly, posting will be slightly reduced over until later next week, though you might expect to see some further thoughts on Newfoundland’s role in Canada, and perhaps even its historical significance as a case study for financial crisis and sovereignty, and why Germany hasn’t done to Greece what the United Kingdom in 1933 did to the Dominion of Newfoundland.

I may also have some thoughts about what the ‘Better Together’ campaign can learn (or should avoid) from Newfoundland’s example of Confederation into Canada, and I hope to spend a little time on St. Pierre et Miquelon, the self-governing territorial overseas collectivity of France just off the coast of southern Newfoundland, where euros (and not Canadian dollars) are the official currency. Literally, and not figuratively, France. 

I’ll also be working on additional thoughts on Iraq’s ongoing government formation process, the political fallout from the current tension between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the fallout from Indonesia’s recent presidential election, Spain’s newest party leader,  and previews of the coming Turkish and Brazilian presidential elections.

Though the pace of world elections is slowing from the past three months, there’s still a massive amount of world political change.

Over the coming weeks, I hope to retool Suffragio with an exciting new video component, a daily briefing and shorter, more focused analysis. Stay tuned!