Clearys says he's 'in it to win it'

     The national polls are trending against the NDP and locally he is in a squeaker of a race against a challenger who seems to have picked up some wind in his sails, but the incumbent member in St. John's South - Mount Pearl, Ryan Cleary, says he is feeling confident going into Monday's election.
     "I feel strong," Cleary insisted. "I take absolutely nothing for granted, but I feel strong. I feel that the support is there at the doors. People see that I'm busy, they see that I've been working, they see that I've been standing up in the House of Commons for different issues that affect not just the riding but for the province. So no, I feel strong. But again I take nothing for granted."
     Cleary indicated he isn't too worried about the effect the waning NDP numbers nationally will have on his campaign. "My strategy, I guess from day one as a Member of Parliament, was to work my butt off and to build a strong base in terms of case work, in terms of my work in the community and in terms of my work in the House of Commons," he said. "To build a strong base so that in the event of a worst case scenario, I'd be strong. So I have done my work for four years and I think that is why I feel strong... My strategy has been to build a strong base here and I think I've done that."
     The self-styled Fighting Newfoundlander said nobody has made an issue of his party leader Thomas Mulcair having used the word Newfie in an insulting fashion during his days as a member of the Quebec national assembly. "I know obviously it was a news story when he was here, but I have not gotten that once," he said.
     Cleary bristled at the suggestion that he has been overselling himself as a Newfoundland patriot. "It used to be that I was known as a one trick pony for the fishery," he said. "And now it's for Newfoundland and Labrador. If you want to portray me that way, I don't think that that's a bad thing. I do stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a total cliché; I do represent Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa and not the other way around. And after four years in Ottawa buddy, that means something to me, because it's a fight every way you turn for a small province and a fight to put our interests first and foremost."
     Asked if he is fearful that he is limiting how other people see him, Cleary replied, "I'm afraid of noting... I don't care how other people see me. I am there for a reason; to fight for Newfoundland and Labrador and St. John's South - Mount Pearl, that's it, that's a full time job. I've spoken more about Newfoundland and Labrador in Question Period, for example, than any Liberal MP. This is what I do. This is a full time fight for Newfoundland and Labrador and if people don't like it boy, I don't know what to tell you."
     As for his fight to keep his seat, Cleary said it's assuming a lot to say the race is close. "That's not what I feel at the doors," he said. "I feel strong support. Again, I take nothing for granted, but I feel strong support."
     Cleary said he has no idea what his Liberal opponent Seamus O'Regan's campaign team is like, "but I have a fantastic crew around me and that crew is constantly growing. And we are flat out, be it telephone calls or knocking on doors or drops, you name it, we're there and we've got a crowd doing it."
     If re-elected, Cleary said he will pursue three priorities. The first is helping seniors, who happen to be the biggest demographic in the riding. "From Newfoundland and Labrador's perspective I think one of the big things coming up is Northern Shrimp and LIFO (Ottawa's 'last in, first out' policy for cancelling the licences of harvesters in the event of quota cuts)," he said. "Something has to be done about LIFO. And we have a commitment from the party to fix it based on the twin principles of adjacency and historical attachment, so I'm going to make sure we follow through on that. Thousands of jobs are dependent on that and impacting the economy of the entire province and St. John's South - Mount Pearl."
     The third priority, Cleary said, is to get more information about the Search and Rescue response to the sinking of the fishing vessel Atlantic Charger in northern waters this past fall. "When I get back to Ottawa I'm going to push on that," he said. "The nine crewmen... all got into immersion suits, they all got into a life raft, they all survived, fantastic. But questions have been raised about what happened with the Cormorant (helicopter) response to that, especially amongst the crew and the owner. So I'm going to ask questions about that as well."
     And if he loses the election?
     "I don't know boy, do you think the media will have me back?" he responded, laughing. "I'm in it to win it. I'm in it to win it."
     Cleary's final message is that "Harper is going to be gone. Nobody is clear away in the polls. I think there is going to be a minority government,” he said. “I think we're going to need the strongest possible representation from the province and I think that that's what I represent."

Posted on October 14, 2015 .