The official Opposition is now one seat stronger in the House of Assembly.
Liberal candidate Marshall Dean was voted in as the house's newest member after the numbers were called for the Straits-White Bay North byelection last night.
"I feel tremendously humbled by the fact that people in this district put such great confidence in me as a candidate that they would want me to represent them in the House of Assembly," Mr. Dean said.
The Liberal candidate won 47 per cent of the votes (1,925), Progressive Conservative candidate Rick Pelley won 44.7 per cent (1,799) and New Democratic Party candidate Dale Colbourne won 7.9 per cent (321), giving the Liberals four seats versus the PC's 42 and the NDP's one, according to the Elections Newfoundland and Labrador website.
Of the 6,816 eligible voters in the district, 4,045 (59 per cent) cast their ballots.
Mr. Dean edged out Mr. Pelley by 126 votes.
The Straits area of the Northern Peninsula largely contributed to the Liberals squeaking out a victory, as the area had pushed the PCs past the Liberals in 2001 - also a byelection.
In 2001, Trevor Taylor, whose resignation caused the recent byelection, won by 140 votes in the Straits, beating then Liberal candidate Ross Pilgrim by 216 total votes. That election had been called because of Brian Tobin's resignation to run in federal politics.
The PC government had come under fire recently for its plans to cut lab and X-ray services and operating hours at the Strait of Belle Isle Health Centre in Flowers Cove from 24 to 12.
Since the byelection was called, Jerome Kennedy, with Premier Danny Williams at his side, reversed the plan cuts, stoking accusations of electioneering.
"(The provincial government) failed the people of rural Newfoundland and Labrador in particular," Mr. Dean said after his victory. "I can't really speak for them, all I can say is that the opposition voice in Newfoundland and Labrador just gained a lot of credibility, it grew a lot stronger and it will be pressing everyday, representing not only this district but other districts throughout the province that have similar concerns to ours, in terms of how this government is governing this province."
Ms. Colbourne agreed.
Following her loss, she endorsed the Liberal candidate.
"It shows that people have actually had it with the PCs, and it's about time," Ms. Colbourne said. "I said from the beginning that if I didn't win (which I didn't really think I would), I wanted the Liberals to win. I think it's still going to be a voice against Danny, and I think Marshall will be an effective voice."
In front of television cameras, after a congratulatory visit to the Liberal headquarters, Mr. Pelley was lost to explain the result.
"They must have been dissatisfied in some way, I'm not sure what to be honest with you. The government's invested $130 million in this area in the last maybe four, five years. I don't really know honestly what their beef is. But anyway, they've spoken, and that's about it," he said.
Most recently, the PC government has invested $9 million into the Roddickton forestry industry. Investments have also been made on route 430 and municipal infrastructure, as well as a new K-12 school/civic centre in St. Anthony, scheduled to open in fall 2011.
"It's hard to know how people think, because you go to the doors and sometimes you feel like you got support," Mr. Pelley said. "But you can't always believe what you hear at the doors. The people have spoken."