CORNER BROOK — Provincial NDP Leader Alison Coffin is wrapping up a tour of the west coast this week, trying to take the political pulse of the region.
“I need to know what’s important to you so I can go advocate for that,” she said in Corner Brook Wednesday morning.
She’s been meeting with businesspeople, municipal leaders, representatives of the Corner Brook Women’s Centre, health-care workers, management at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. and students.
Coffin said there are a lot of unknowns in the political landscape as Dr. Andrew Furey prepares to take on the roles of leader of the Liberal party and premier while he doesn’t have a seat in the House of Assembly.
“And that’s a very hard way to be premier, for sure,” Coffin observed, adding, "We’ve heard that he thinks there is no appetite for a fall election, so I think that’s pretty reasonable.”
The political uncertainty just adds to the uncertainty of life in the province as it continues to navigate COVID-19. Coffin said there’s no easy answer to address the issues created as the pandemic reached our shores fairly quickly.
“What we do know is COVID shone a bright light on a lot of the vulnerabilities in our society," she said. "So, I think that means that we need to really refocus where we are spending money. We need a better set of priorities. We need to protect the vulnerable people that are here. COVID is not gone, a lot of the problems are still going to be there.”
Coffin said essential workers are still vulnerable, and the education system is still sorting itself out as kids get ready to return to school.
Coffin heard about some of the concerns facing families during a visit to the Corner Brook Women’s Centre.
Executive director Paula Sheppard Thibeau said they talked about the need for a campaign for the provincial domestic violence hotline. And about 2SLGBTQQIA (two-spirited, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual) issues, including the need for issues around consent to be taught as part of the school curriculum.
“A lot of our discussion was actually focused on the return to school and what that might look like, and the fact that it’s causing a lot of anxiety for parents as well as students …,” Sheppard Thibeau said.