May 22, 2019 6:37 pm

N.L. Tory apologizes for combative election night speech, will ‘assist’ Liberals

Crosbie's Tories took 15 seats, the New Democrats won three and two Independents were elected.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
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Newfoundland and Labrador’s Tory leader apologized Wednesday for combative election night remarks in which he called the results a constitutional crisis and declared his intent to topple the re-elected Liberals within a year.

Ches Crosbie said that he spoke in the heat of the moment last Thursday and now regretted his speech.

He said Wednesday he realized his comments were a “misstep” after a “cooling off period” and feedback from others.

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“It was unfortunate. I should have been more gracious and I should have thanked all of our volunteers, our candidates … all the people who put their great efforts into making the campaign as successful as it was,” Crosbie told reporters.

Last Thursday’s election saw Premier Dwight Ball’s incumbent Liberal government reduced to minority status, winning 20 of the legislature’s 40 seats.

Crosbie’s Tories took 15 seats, the New Democrats won three and two Independents were elected. A recount is to come in one district where an NDP rookie unseated a Liberal incumbent by five votes.

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Crosbie expressed his apologies and regret for comments that he said came from a place of passion over the need for change in the province. He said he regretted not congratulating Ball, and spoke with him by phone over the weekend.

“We are all only human and I intend to revert to my normal, statesmanlike composure,” Crosbie said.

After the results came in on election night, he had predicted the failure of the Liberal government and called the outcome a “situation of constitutional instability.”

Crosbie posted a letter to Twitter the following day with a softened tone, congratulating the premier and suggesting he would work with Ball but planned to take him to task on his promises.

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On Wednesday, surrounded by the newly elected PC caucus, the 65-year-old said his party plans to “assist” the Liberals in making the province run smoothly.

“It is not our intention to bring down the government, rather it is our intention to ensure that the Liberal government, assuming they remain the government, will gain the confidence of the house on those matters that are of interest to the public,” Crosbie said at the Confederation Building.

He said all 40 elected members can agree the public doesn’t want another election.

Crosbie explained his lengthy silence by saying he was speaking with other candidates and campaign workers, and said the “ambiguity” of the current state of the government added uncertainty as he prepared his remarks.

Crosbie maintained that a “crisis” is still ongoing until the premier meets the legislature for a vote of confidence.

NDP Leader Alison Coffin and both Independents have signaled that they would be willing to work with the Liberal government and would prefer to avoid another imminent election.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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