The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Ex-Liberal MP Todd Russell won't seek Grit nod for Labrador byelection

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HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. - A Liberal member of the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature won't have competition from former MP Todd Russell in her bid to represent the federal Grits in an upcoming byelection.

Yvonne Jones remains uncontested to carry the party banner in Labrador now that Russell has announced he won't try to reclaim the seat he narrowly lost to former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue two years ago.

Russell made his announcement Monday on a radio program, saying he believes his time will be better spent in his current role as president of the NunatuKavut, a non-profit organization that represents the Inuit-Metis of southern Labrador.

Penashue defeated the incumbent Russell by 79 votes in the May 2011 election.

Penashue quit his post earlier this month after Elections Canada found his election campaign had accepted 28 different ineligible donations.

The ex-intergovernmental affairs minister has pledged to run in the byelection for the Conservatives in an effort to clear the air.

No date has been set for the byelection.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae tweeted his support for Russell's decision to stay out of the race shortly after it was announced.

"Salute Todd Russell for his excellent service and passion for social justice — understand his decision, a good friend," he tweeted.

Jones, a former provincial Liberal leader, announced earlier this month that she intends to seek the federal Liberal nomination because she believes Labrador deserves better representation in the House of Commons.

She represents the Labrador riding of Cartwright-L'anse au Clair in the provincial legislature.

The federal New Democrats selected Harry Borlase as their candidate Sunday, rejecting a suggestion from Green Leader Elizabeth May that the party sit this one out.

Borlase, who was raised in Nain and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, works as an analyst with Co-Core, a research and development organization specializing in petroleum exploration in ice-prone regions.

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