ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Andrew Furey has been sworn in as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The surgeon and charity CEO from a political family was elected Liberal leader Aug. 3 and will replace Dwight Ball to become the 14th premier of the province.
Furey, the son of Senate Speaker George Furey, was sworn in during a ceremony at Government House in St. John’s this morning.
The new premier, who has never held public office and does not have a seat in the provincial legislature, will take questions at a news conference later today.
Furey will inherit a troubling financial situation in Newfoundland and Labrador, with officials attributing a $2.1-billion deficit to falling oil prices and pandemic-related spending.
The new premier will face the likelihood of rising electricity rates due to cost overruns from the Muskrat Falls dam and will have to manage a struggling offshore oil and gas industry.
Furey’s father, his extended family and his business partners, Alan Doyle and Brendan Paddick, were among the guests gathered at the outdoor ceremony. The new premier spoke about the province’s imminent challenges.
“We all know the toughest decisions lie ahead,” Furey said.
He said he’s optimistic about the province’s potential despite the fact, he said, some have suggested his new job is like “being made captain of the Titanic after hitting an iceberg.”
“COVID, unfortunately, has hit us at a time when our economy is also on its knees,” Furey said. “But this is also a moment at which we can take a hard look at where we are and see it through the lens of where we want to go.”
He said he wants to move away from a “boom and bust” economy and to listen to expertise around the province before making governing decisions.
“I call on our brightest minds to take a seat at the table,” he said. “Help us redefine ourselves.”
Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote addressed the crowd with brief remarks about the need for strong leadership and collaboration to help the province reach its full potential.
“Premier Furey, you know about leadership having held many roles where it was required,” Foote said. “Leadership and teamwork.”
“You now have another opportunity to continue to do both, where I dare say you will be watched much more closely because of the impact your leadership will have on our province and our people.”
The premier must win a legislative seat within the next twelve months. He has indicated he does not plan to call an election before the end of 2020 and that he intends to run for the next seat that becomes available.
Ball won a minority government in 2019. There are currently 20 Liberal members in the legislature, 15 Progressive Conservatives, three New Democrats and two Independents.
The former premier will keep his seat in the Humber-Grose Morne district for the time being.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2020.