N.L. NDP leader who lost seat by 53 votes considering asking for recount

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N.L. NDP leader who lost seat by 53 votes considering asking for recount

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s NDP leader says her 53-vote loss in the provincial election on Saturday stings, but that it’s symbolic of a vote plagued with problems.

In an interview Monday, Alison Coffin said asking for a judicial recount in her St. John’s East-Quidi Vidi district is certainly a possibility, but she said she still has to discuss that option with her party.

“Something will be done, don’t you worry,” she said. “A judicial recount would give us a fair bit of insight into some of the decision-making that happened.”

Elections NL released preliminary results in the 10-week, pandemic-delayed provincial election Saturday, showing Andrew Furey’s Liberals earning 22 of 40 seats for a slim majority. The Progressive Conservatives won 13 seats, the NDP won two and three Independents were elected.

Furey comfortably won his seat, but both Coffin and Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie lost theirs.

The premier first called the election on Jan. 15, with voting day set for Feb. 13. But a COVID-19 outbreak in the St. John's region prompted officials to cancel all in-person voting and shift to mail-in ballots. What followed was a series of deadline extensions and controversies surrounding Elections NL’s management of the election.

On March 12, the NDP wrote to Elections NL about concerns from the party’s scrutineer, who had claimed an “unprecedented” number of mail-in ballots were being considered spoiled. The party said in the letter it disagreed with some of the reasons ballots were being rejected.

Coffin said on Monday that a judicial recount would reveal whether the party’s concerns were warranted.

Furey was in his western Newfoundland riding of Humber-Gros Morne on Monday and then dialed into a news conference later in the day about the province’s COVID-19 vaccination plans.

Crosbie has not made a media appearance since Saturday, when he sent reporters a pre-recorded concession speech after the election results were announced.

Coffin said she sympathized with the Tory leader because she also lost her seat. “This is a hard place to be,” she said.

She said she still has a lot to offer the NDP. “We need all hands on deck right now, and I have a lot of skills and a lot of time, and a role to play in the party,” Coffin said, adding that discussions about her future in the NDP will likely happen in the coming days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2021.

Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press