2003 Newfoundland and Labrador General Election

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Oct 1, 2003

On October 21, 2003, voters in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador elected the provincial Progressive Conservative Party to a majority government, with Danny Williams becoming the province’s new premier. In the election, the Progressive Conservatives soundly defeated the provincial Liberal Party, which had been in government prior to the election. This article provides an overview of previous election results, pre-election party standings and polls, information on each major party’s leader and election platforms, as well as a summary of the election results.

Newfoundland and Labrador Electoral Backgrounder

Previous elections and pre-election party standings/polls

2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party

Leader and policies of the Liberal Party

2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative Party

Leader and policies of the Progressive Conservative Party

2003 Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party

Leader and policies of the New Democratic Party

2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Election Results

Liberal Party wins a majority government

Sources and Links for More Information

Lists of article sources and links for more on this topic


Newfoundland and Labrador Electoral Backgrounder

Previous elections and pre-election party standings/polls

1999 General Election

The last general provincial election was held in 1999. In that election, the Liberal Party won a majority government with 32 seats in the House of Assembly and 49.7 percent of the popular vote. The Progressive Conservative Party came in second, with 14 seats, forming the Official Opposition. The following provides a summary of results for the 1999 general election.

1999 General Election Results

Party

Seats

% Vote

Standing

Liberal Party

32

49.7

Majority Government

Progressive Conservative Party

14

40.8

Official Opposition

New Democratic Party

2

8.2

 

Provincial By-Elections (1999-2003)

Since 1999, there have been seven by-elections. The Progressive Conservatives won five of the seven by-elections, while the Liberals won two.

For more information on the province’s by-elections between 1999 and 2003:

Party Standings Prior to Dissolution

Prior to the 2003 general election, the party standings in the provincial House of Assembly were as follows:

Party

Seats

Standing

Liberal Party

27

Majority Government

Progressive Conservative Party

19

Official Opposition

New Democratic Party

2

 

Pre-election Public Opinion Polls

On September 2, 2003, the research firm Corporate Research Associates released several polls on public opinion in Newfoundland and Labrador. The polls showed a large lead for the Progressive Conservative Party. Below are some of the findings of the Corporate Research Associates’ public opinion poll.

If a provincial election were held today in Newfoundland and Labrador, for which party would you vote?

 

Feb/Mar 2003

May 2003

Aug 2003

Liberal Party

39%

39%

36%

Progressive Conservative Party

50%

52%

54%

New Democratic Party

5%

5%

6%

How satisfied are you with the overall performance of the Provincial Government led by Premier Roger Grimes?

 

Feb/Mar 2003

May 2003

Aug 2003

Completely satisfied

7%

7%

6%

Mostly satisfied

49%

50%

47%

Mostly dissatisfied

26%

24%

27%

Completely dissatisfied

12%

15%

14%

Which one of the following individuals would you most prefer as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador?

 

Feb/Mar 2003

May 2003

Aug 2003

Roger Grimes

30%

36%

27%

Danny Williams

47%

51%

52%

Jack Harris

7%

5%

6%

Survey Information: Sample: 802 Newfoundland and Labrador Residents (18 years plus); August 15 to August 23, 2003; Margin of Sampling Error: +3.5 percent (95% confidence level)
Source: Corporate Research Associates


2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party

Leader and policies of the Liberal Party

Leader of the Provincial Liberal Party

Roger Grimes is the Liberal Party leader and Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Grimes was born in 1950 in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland. He has a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Education and a Master’s in Education from Memorial University. Prior to entering politics, Mr. Grimes was a math, physical and chemistry teacher. He also served as President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association. Mr. Grimes was first elected to the Newfoundland House of Assembly in 1989. He served as Parliamentary Assistant to then Premier Clyde Wells. From 1990 to 2001, he served as Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Minister of Education, Minister of Mines and Energy, and Minister of Health. In 2001, he was sworn in as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Provincial Liberal Party Platform

In September 2003, the Liberal Party released a detailed platform document titled “Take a Closer Look.” This plan reflects the fundamental idea that the province can continue to grow and prosper by investing in people. Highlights of the platform are as follows:

  • Economic Policy: The Liberal Party stresses its past success in providing for a strong economy, including GDP and real income growth in the province. New initiatives promised include increasing the viability and sustainability of the fisheries, pursuing new opportunities in agriculture and forestry, providing tax incentives for small businesses and investment, establishing a regional economic development fund in cooperation with the federal government, and developing a broadband internet strategy.
  • Health care: Greater investment in health care, including a new drug program for seniors based on income, greater spending to expand and replace equipment and infrastructure, commitment to substantially reduce waiting lists, and pushing the federal government to increase federal payments to provincial healthcare systems.
  • Education: With respect to primary and secondary education, the Liberal Party is committed to a review of the high school curriculum, more spending on tools needed by teachers in the classroom, and the reduction of school fees for books and supplies currently charged to parents. The Liberal Party promises to make post-secondary education more affordable by lowering the eligibility threshold for financial assistance. The Party is also committed to introducing a tax break for students who stay in the province after graduation and are employed in professions with skill shortages or in under-serviced areas. The plan will allow students to write off their student loan debt over a five- to ten-year period.
  • Rural Development: The Party is committed to a strategic plan that ensures that all regions share in the province’s economic recovery. This involves a focus on rural economic diversity and small business development. It will be built on cooperation with regional development boards to ensure that programs are consistent with the priorities of the people.
  • Government: Commitment to reforms that provide greater accountability in government, strengthen democracy in the province, and improve the justice system.

2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative Party

Leader and policies of the Progressive Conservative Party

Leader of the Provincial Progressive Conservative Party

Danny Williams is the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and Leader of the Official Opposition. Mr. Williams was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He studied political science and economics at Memorial University in Newfoundland. He became a Rhodes Scholar in 1969 and received a degree in Arts in Law from Oxford University in England. Mr. Williams later received a Bachelor of Law from Dalhousie University in Halifax. Prior to entering politics he practised law in Newfoundland and Labrador, was head of Cable Atlantic, President of the oil and gas company OIS Fisher, and owned and operated various golf courses and hotel resorts. In April 2001, he was elected Leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative Party. He was first elected to the House of Assembly in June 2001.

Provincial Progressive Conservative Party Platform

The Progressive Conservative platform is outlined in the PC Blue Book, which was first introduced in the 1999 general election. Key points of the Blue Book include:

  • Economic policy: Propel economic growth in the province by reducing taxes, providing support to small- and medium-sized business growth, and targeting specific industries (in particular information technology, tourism, fisheries, and natural resources.
  • Resource management: Commitment to sustainable development that generates maximum revenues and employment and maintains a healthy environment.
  • Government reform: Commitment to greater government accountability and transparency. Also advocates parliamentary reform, government ethics, and electoral financing reform.
  • Rural revitalization: Committed to rural revitalization, including economic stimulation through tax cuts, provision of loans and grants to businesses, and greater investment in education and health care in rural areas.
  • Fisheries: In addition to the Blue Book, the PC Party has set forth a policy on the fisheries. The Party will aggressively pursue a Canada-Newfoundland Fisheries Agreement. The Agreement will provide a joint decision-making process to give the Newfoundland and Labrador a meaningful say in decisions regarding fisheries management that have a major impact on our economy and social fabric.

2003 Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party

Leader and policies of the New Democratic Party

Leader of the Provincial NDP Party

Jack Harris is the leader of the New Democratic Party. Mr. Harris was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1948. He graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and received degrees in law from the University of Alberta and the London School of Economics. Mr. Harris was first elected to federal politics as a NDP Member of Parliament in 1987. Following his defeat at the federal level in 1988, he ran and was elected to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in 1990. Mr. Harris has been leader of the NDP since 1992.

Provincial NDP Party Platform

The New Democratic Party platform stresses the party’s commitment to democratic socialism. Highlights of the party’s platform are as follows:

  • Education: Focus on making schools safe, healthy and free. This includes a universal school meal and nutrition program, a mandatory anti-bullying program, a re-examination of the criteria for school bus access, a full-day Kindergarten, and the elimination of all primary and secondary school fees. Regarding post-secondary education, the NDP is committed to creating a system that prevents students from graduating with crippling debt.
  • Health care: Commit to implementing a program that will bring prescription drug coverage in the province to the same level of other Canadian provinces. This includes expanding the existing program to include drugs needed for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Social Policy: Raise the minimum wage, pay equity legislation for women, affordable and accessible housing, and an end to the privatization of public services.
  • Energy Policy: Reject the deregulation of energy. The NDP is committed to creating a new public energy corporation that would include energy generation and distribution systems. The purpose of this policy is to maintain affordable energy rates in the province and provide the public with a greater ability to control energy industry development and profits.
  • Auto Insurance: The NDP proposes a public insurance system modeled on the highly successful BC public system. Such a system would be mandatory, universal, and managed by the government.

2003 Newfoundland and Labrador Election Results

Progressive Conservative Party wins a majority government

The Progressive Conservative party won a majority government, with Danny Williams becoming Premier. Below is a summary of the election results, including popular votes and seats won for each party.

Results of 2003 Election

Political Parties

Popular Vote

Seats Won

Status

Progressive Conservatives

58.68%

34

Majority Government

Liberal Party

33.24%

12

Official Opposition

New Democratic Party

06.86%

02

-

Other

1.22%

-

-


Sources and Links for More Information

Lists of article sources and links for more on this topic

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