Baie Verte-Green Bay turned blue, and Lin Paddock says it's not just a vote against Liberals

Lin Paddock is the newest MHA for the Progressive Conservatives in Baie Verte-Green Bay. (Lin Paddock/Facebook - image credit)
Lin Paddock is the newest MHA for the Progressive Conservatives in Baie Verte-Green Bay. (Lin Paddock/Facebook - image credit)

Newfoundland and Labrador's newest MHA says his resounding win on Monday wasn't just a vote against Liberals, but a sign that the province is embracing the Progressive Conservative Party.

Lin Paddock won the Baie Verte-Green Bay byelection with ease, taking 79 per cent of votes with a 56 per cent voter turnout.

He said the result is proof that the party's message is hitting home with people in his district.

"It was not just about people voting against something and I think the size of the victory, the size of the turnout is reflective of people wanting to vote for something and seeing the PCs and me as being a trustworthy and viable alternative," he told CBC's Newfoundland Morning on Tuesday.

It was Paddock's second time running in the district. He lost to Liberal incumbent Brian Warr in 2021, in a 52-48 split. The tumultuous pandemic election had a 42 per cent voter turnout.

Paddock said he was pleased with voter turnout this time around, given the byelection took place during the height of fishing season and many people in the district travel outside the province for work.

His campaign put a focus on the smaller communities throughout the district, which he said were less engaged during the pandemic election. Paddock estimates he knocked on more than 2,000 doors.

The province has had three byelections in 2024. The Liberals swung Conception Bay East-Bell Island from blue to red, but lost seats in Fogo Island-Cape Freels and now Baie Verte-Green Bay.

The Liberals still hold a majority government with 22 seats.

LISTEN | Lin Paddock gives his first interview after winning the Baie Verte-Green Bay byelection:

Byelection blunders played no role in outcome, Paddock says

Paddock caused controversy when he made comments during a debate about how the province should recruit doctors from "places like Germany, they adore the outdoors, not India and Pakistan where they will come here and then go to Toronto."

He later apologized and insisted he meant no ill will.

Liberal candidate Owen Burt also made headlines when it was revealed he is a member of the federal Conservative Party of Canada.

Paddock said he doesn't believe either situation made a big change among the voters in Bay Verte-Green Bay. He said he felt the Liberals strong reaction to his comments backfired.

"I apologize for those comments and I think people that know me know that I meant no ill intent. And I think that was partly reflected in the resounding win," he said. "I also think, you know, how the Liberals played it is not what rural Newfoundland and Labrador wanted to see. We had to come together, regardless of what side of the aisle we're on in the House of Assembly to develop solutions provincewide."

Health care, highways big priorities

Paddock said his first priority is to get 13 kilometres of brush cleared from Route 410 on the Baie Verte Peninsula. He said the safety of the highway was flagged as a major concern among residents in the region during his campaign.

He also wants to advocate for better health services in the region. The hospitals in Baie Verte and Springdale have both dealt with closures due to staffing issues since 2022.

Paddock said he wants to see the province give more autonomy to nurse practitioners who can alleviate some of the burden from doctors in the region.

"The model that is being used now in the province is not working for rural Newfoundland and Labrador," he said. "The Liberals are just not listening."

Paddock will be sworn in at the House of Assembly at a later date.

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