Cheryl O’Brien, a Kavanaugh from Ferryland, has worked in the federal government for the past 26 years, but is probably best known as the co-owner of O'Brien's Clover Farm Supermarket in Cape Broyle, which her and her husband Neil bought from Kevin and Arlene Dalton about four years ago.
As the Liberal Party’s candidate in Ferryland district, O’Brien is tasked with trying to knock off PC incumbent Loyola O’Dricsoll, a well-known and well-liked former Southern Shore Breakers hockey star and municipal councillor from Bay Bulls. Also in the race is NDP candidate Paul Murphy, whom the Irish Loop Post has been unable to locate.
The district is a PC stronghold, that has voted blue for the last 50 years.
O’Brien said that history doesn’t scare her.
“I like a good challenge. A challenge never frightens me,” she allowed. “I look at that sometimes and wonder why. Sometimes we just do what we always did because we always did it. I think it’s time for us to take our thinking a little further. The challenges of being blue since 1971, and I was born in 1972, that’s all just part of it. Just because it’s been 50 years one way doesn’t mean that now is not the perfect time to change that.”
O’Brien has been active in the community, being involved in different groups and organizations over the years, and said she has a heart for people.
“I’ve always been active and I’ve always been trying to help people, and I love hearing what somebody else has to say,” said O’Brien. “If you come into my store, seldom do you get out without me asking who you are or making a connection, and creating a small relationship.”
O’Brien said a Liberal government, headed up by leader Andrew Furey, is what the province needs.
“I see the desperate state that we’re in as a province, which wasn’t made any better by this global pandemic. And I think it’s time that we’ve had somebody who wants this, and wants to represent the people, and who wants to represent this place,” said O’ Brien. “I like the leadership of Andrew Furey, and I like the leadership of the Liberals throughout the pandemic. It was certainly a pleasure to me to know that my parents were protected, in a round about way, because the province handled it so well. I just want to be sure that when decisions are made, and when money is spent, what little money we have to spend right now, that we’re not forgotten.”
O’Brien said the district faces a number of challenges, from health and community services, such as mental health and emergency response times, to road conditions, to industry, including tourism, agriculture, the fishery, and oil and gas.
People should not think of the Liberal Party as the anti-oil-and-gas party, she said.
“I really think that if anyone thinks this island can survive without oil and gas, that’s crazy. We need every industry we have, we need every opportunity we have, we need to attract business, we need to get big companies here and we need to get small companies here,” she said.
And though the party, and in particular leader Andrew Furey, have taken slack for calling the election before the findings of an economic recovery team, which he appointed, has reported its findings, O’Brien said that’s not a concern for her.
“They are bringing recommendations and recommendations only. They are not making the decisions. Those recommendations are being brought forwards for public consultation. This is a way to bring our province forward, to advance our province. This is not a way to cut and slash,” said O’Brien, who noted she would not run for the party if she thought that was the case.
And she will not be a candidate to simply tow the party line, O’Brien added.
“I think the Liberal Party has great leadership, and I think they have a good team, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit there and nod my head and say,’Yes sir,’ or ‘No sir.’ I was never that person. It’s not in me to be that person,” said O’Brien. “I can commit to strong representation, I can commit to wanting to represent the people, I can commit to wanting to represent the place. I’ll be there for you, I’ll be visible, and I won’t be quiet. I feel as though I can make a difference. I will do my best to make a difference. Ovbiously, we can’t please everyone, but I will do what I can.”
Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News