Is Penashue Labrador’s best ever MP?

John Geddes takes a quick look at the competition


Today the Prime Minister declared Peter Penashue—who recently resigned his seat in the House as Elections Canada continues to probe illegal contributions to his 2011 election campaign—the “best member of Parliament Labrador has ever had.”

I’m the furthest thing from an expert on Newfoundland and Labrador political history, but Harper’s bold historical claim got me wondering. So here’s a very brief comparison of Penashue and Thomas G. W. Ashbourne, the first MP for northeast Newfoundland and Labrador, who won his seat in the House as a Liberal in 1949, the first election after Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada, and again in 1953 and 1957.

Before being forced to step down under a cloud of controversy, Penashue served 683 days as an MP and was regarded by many as having been an unusually inconsequential minister of intergovernmental affairs. By constrast, Ashbourne served 3,200 days as an MP before he retired, notably chairing the fisheries committee from 1952 to 1957, where he was credited with securing unemployment insurance for fishermen.

Before he entered federal politics, Penashue was a leader of the Innu Nation, for whom he negotiated benefits from the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Co. Prior to becoming an MP, Asbourne, a World War I veteran, was a member of Newfoundland’s first delegation to Ottawa to discuss the terms for entering Confederation. He was persuaded to support the plan by his old University of Toronto classmate and friend, Lester B. Pearson, and ultimately witnessed the signing of the terms of union in Ottawa in 1948.


Is Penashue Labrador’s best ever MP?

  1. CPC is red/orange/green colour blind

  2. Penashue was by far the most influential Innu leader ever in Labrador. He’s done amazing things to help his community, as an MP he’s done little.

  3. Also please consider Bill Rompkey MP, who served with distinction from 1988–1995 and held several Cabinet posts including Minister of National Revenue

  4. Penashue got rich off the misery of his own people, he is a sellout and big business love him, compare his house and lifestyle to the rest of his community!

  5. Ashbourne was a puppet and crony of joey smallwood. Getting UI/EI for fishermen has done more damage to NL culture and its economy than any other single federal action.

    Bill Rompkey would be a far better example/comparator to penashue but then when he was MP he was MP for Grand Falls White Bay and LAbrador and he wasn’t from labrador nor was he particularly interested in it as is was a small part of his riding.

    • Bill Rompkey represented Labrador and only Labrador from 1988 to 1995, after the boundaries changed, and he then represented Labrador well in the Senate from 1995 to 2011.

  6. Hmm. The ‘best MP Labrado ever had’ is a deer in the headlights?

  7. This man and especially Harper, is a disgrace to the people of Canada and everything CANADIAN stands for. If this man is allowed to return then Canadians and Labradorians are indeed stupid. A disgrace!

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