Andrew Furey Sworn in as Newfoundland and Labrador Premier After Tumultuous Election

Andrew Furey Sworn in as Newfoundland and Labrador Premier After Tumultuous Election
Premier Andrew Furey speaks to the media after his Liberals won a majority government at a press conference at the Delta Hotel in St. John's on March 27, 2021. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press

ST. JOHN'S, N.L.—Newfoundland and Labrador’s newly elected Premier Andrew Furey was sworn into office Thursday morning in St. John’s.

Addressing a small, socially distanced ceremony at the residence of Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, Furey acknowledged the province faces towering challenges and called for his peers to do what’s right for the province.

“The problems we are about to tackle are not Liberal problems. They’re not Conservative problems. They’re not NDP problems or Green problems,” he said. “They are the problems of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

With a population of about 520,000, Newfoundland and Labrador is shouldering a $16.4-billion net debt, which yields the highest net-debt-to-GDP ratio in the country. The province spends more on debt servicing costs than it does on education, according to its 2020-2021 budget.

Furey’s Liberals were re-elected last month with a slim majority after a tumultuous 10-week election plagued with delays and controversies.

The Liberals won 22 of the province’s 40 seats, up from the 19-seat Liberal minority government elected in 2019. The Progressive Conservatives will hold 13 seats, down from 15, and the NDP won two seats, down from three. Three Independents were also elected.

Furey called the election on Jan. 15, with voting day originally set for Feb. 13. A COVID-19 outbreak in St. John’s sidelined those plans and forced officials to cancel all in-person voting, less than 12 hours before polls opened. Votes were instead cast by mail, and results were announced March 27 after several deadline extensions for ballot returns.

Despite a record-low voter turnout of 48 percent, Furey has said he believes his mandate is legitimate. He is expected to unveil his chosen cabinet later Thursday morning.

By Sarah Smellie