Furey endorses Trudeau in upcoming election, but what could that mean for N.L.?

·4 min read
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey are greeted as they walk from the Confederation Building in St. John's last month.  (The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan - image credit)
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, left, and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey are greeted as they walk from the Confederation Building in St. John's last month. (The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan - image credit)
The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan
The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says he is standing by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in the upcoming federal election, leaving his opposition to question how it could impact relationships with other candidates.

Furey has taken part in Trudeau's two stops in Newfoundland over the course of the federal campaign, making announcements on child care and the Muskrat Falls project.

In brief comments to CBC News Wednesday, Furey said Trudeau has been "an immense friend to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador," and that he stands by the party leader heading into Sept. 20.

When asked about how endorsing Trudeau could impact relationships with other candidates like poll-leading Conserative Leader Erin O'Toole, Furey said he doesn't see it that way.

"We've written Mr. O'Toole, we've written all the federal leaders as we said we would for their opinions on the agreement in principle, in particular with respect to Muskrat Falls," he said. "But I think you've seen me show a willingness with multiple parties at multiple different times, and that's how you get things done."

When asked about the decisions of other Canadian premiers to largely opt out of endorsing leaders, Furey offered a short response.

"I make my own decisions. You'll have to ask them about theirs," he said.

Furey was unavailable for a full interview, and spoke to CBC News outside Government House while attending the most recent Order of Newfoundland investiture.

Taking sides brings risk, says Opposition

In response to Furey's endorsement, Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative Leader David Brazil said he would have preferred to see the premier stay neutral in the election.

"I get why he wants to campaign with his Liberal cousins out of Ottawa, but the reality is he's the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. He represents all the residents of the province, regardless of how they voted," he said.

"Taking a side publicly with one particular party puts at risk the working relationship and the hopes to be able to negotiate what's in the best interest to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

Mark Quinn/CBC
Mark Quinn/CBC

While Brazil said he has attended a rally for and spoken with O'Toole over the course of his campaign, he says this instance is different due to Furey holding the title of premier.

"He has to speak for all the residents and citizens of this province, and he gets to negotiate with the individual who's going to be prime minister. I don't have that opportunity," Brazil said.

"I would hope the prime minister, whichever party that person is with, is going to be open-minded and obviously very flexible … but you don't want to put anything at risk."

Context is key, say political scientists

Amanda Bittner, a political science professor at Memorial University, said that while a provincial leader endorsing a federal candidate is not unprecedented, the context of the situations where it is done is important.

"Newfoundland and Labrador has a lot of needs. A lot of them are economic, and a lot of them depend on the good will and preferences of the federal government," Bittner said. \

"There's a lot of reasons right now why leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador, and other places across Canada too, would come out clearly in support of particular parties … because they want certain things.

CBC
CBC

"I think there's always a risk in making political choices no matter what. I think the risk would be greater if the parties weren't the same, so if ... Furey was clearly campaigning for Erin O'Toole," for instance, Bittner added. "The consequences of that decision would be quite substantial, I think."

While leaders like Brazil question the impact of future relationships, political scientist Alex Marland said the endorsement could also benefit the province in the event of a second Liberal minority government.

"There's a big difference between showing up at a rally and showing some support ... and actively campaigning," Marland said.

"If Erin O'Toole becomes prime minister, he's not going to think about that. It would be nice if we lived in a world where [endorsing] didn't happen, but the reality is that politicians understand that you support those in your own party."

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