Friday, 14 February 2014


A new name has emerged in the race for the Tory Leadership.   Frank Coleman, scion of the well-known Newfoundland business family, has confirmed to the media that he is interested in the job.  A decision is imminent.

People who know Frank Coleman personally (I do not) describe him as bright, analytical and thoughtful.  The same people describe him as possessing a charisma that is “quiet and reserved”.  In all likelihood they are fans.

Even if this picture is only partly correct, Coleman would not be making this decision on a whim; he would have the overwhelming support of the P.C. Caucus.  More likely, their support is unanimous.

Coleman’s expression of interest in the role of Premier is significant and not just because he wasn’t on the media’s list. 

Frank Coleman is being courted. 

A group of people within and outside the Tory Caucus, including former Premier Danny Williams, have cast their net widely.  Coleman is deemed to possess the right mix of personal and professional credentials.  He is the guy senior Tories are counting on to rescue the P.C. Party from crisis, if not total collapse.    

The Tories have calculated that they need an ‘outsider’, someone with a reputation for being forthright and honest.  The choice of Frank Coleman reflects that imperative; without an injection of decency and credibility, this Government is toast.

The irony is that, once again, Danny Williams gets a say in the choice of his successor.  He screwed up badly last time.  A second irony is that the rank and file of the P.C. Party, once again, may not get the opportunity to elect a Leader. 

Will Bill Barry stay in the race?  Will Shawn Skinner enter the fray?

Frank Coleman would be well advised, notwithstanding the hand of Danny, to welcome a vigorous contest.  The P.C. Party needs one; the public needs a proper airing of some critical public policy issues.

They especially need to see if Coleman is a progressive, a conservative or if, as a business person, he is too far to the right in a Province which only allows politics to be driven on the left.

Public policy matters aside, Coleman’s interest in the top spot reveals a picture more complicated than just the need to permanently replace Kathy Dunderdale, bad Polls, or even the Party’s banishment to the political wilderness. 

The move suggests the few ostensibly interested Cabinet Ministers, on the media’s ‘List’, have contemplated their fortunes and have struck themselves off. 

None possess, it seems, the requisite skills, credibility or capacity to rekindle the respect and confidence of a very disillusioned public.  None is capable of re-building the Party in time for the next election.  It is quite an admission for a Government in power this long.

The reality of the Williams/Dunderdale’s legacy has finally sunk in.

Let’s face it.  Even if one Cabinet Minister had the support of other colleagues, who among the general public would believe him/her capable of dealing arms-length with Nalcor, strong enough to look voters in the eye and stand accountable, or be suddenly able to make policy decisions the Government has long avoided?

The answer is: no one.

Other questions beg acknowledgement.

If Frank Coleman is acceptable: why not Bill Barry?  Both are outsiders.

For some reason, neither Bill Barry nor any of the “pretenders” on the media List were judged against the delegate selection process that ultimately determines the outcome of the Contest.  It failed to answer the question: from where would their support come?

Why, for example, can’t Bill Barry win? 

Simply put, Mr. Barry cannot command a large block of support from Caucus.  Hence, he cannot win.

And make no mistake the Caucus will determine the outcome of the Race.  There is no mystery; it is all about the math.  

The P.C Party’s Constitution requires that if there are two or more Candidates, a Convention will be held in which eligible delegates are permitted to vote. 

Eligible delegates will include the P.C. Caucus, a large number of ex-officio delegates (defined as Tory Senators, former Tory MHAs, MPs and former MPs and Provincial Executive Members) AND eleven delegates from each District Association.

When you consider the numerical influence from District delegates, which might comprise up to three-quarters of the whole ‘electoral college’, you begin to assess the importance of the Caucus’ collective sway. 

Sitting Members are not only influential, in their own right; they are the ones most capable of organizing delegate elections at the local level. 

In a nutshell, the organizational apparatus favors them.  Only if the Caucus’ loyalties are severely fractured can Ridings, which have no sitting Tory Member, really count.  In such a circumstance, Frank Coleman would not be courted at all.

Frank Coleman has the Caucus united around him.  The Race is over.

Only Bill Barry stands in the way of unanimity. Sean Skinner can perform these calculations. My guess: you won’t hear from him.

That said, no one should be foolish enough to ask Bill Barry or Sean Skinner to step aside. The Tory Party needs some constructive tension, a period of serious public policy debate; it needs an opportunity to breathe following not one but two suffocating Leaders.

Besides, the public needs to know what Frank Coleman stands for.

All that said, in the absence of any more surprises, and based on the math, you had best get your bunting unpacked. 

All Hail: Premier Frank Coleman.


  1. The influence of Danny Williams in this province is too extensive. It is troubling.

    I will be supporting Bill Barry.

  2. The Williams years led to the dearth of inspired leadership in this province. His charisma overshadowed deep flaws that led to the electorate confusing ranting and raving with real leadership. His style got attention and his aggressive stance brought out the worst in all of those who supported that notion of leadership…... but it led to the loss of any real leadership on the political front.

    The media were unwitting conspirators in this abdication of responsibility but ultimately the voters who supported his vision were responsible for the demise of real leadership in this province. It may take a generation before we come around to discovering the meaning of principled leadership and the need for consensus in making crucial decisions.

    Danny, and then Kathy, did not trust the electorate to make an informed decision on Muskrat Falls so they baffled us with obfuscation and BS, while simultaneously taking away our right to know. If the facts of this fiasco had been fairly presented, I am confident the electorate would have turned it down. Unfortunately, we were inundated with bafflegab and propaganda that people mistook to be factual, early on, and the government took the early "support" for a licence to gamble with the future. As the facts started to emerge, they chose to ignore them and tried to discredit people who had absolutely no reason to oppose this issue…. other than on the merits, or lack thereof, of the business case for Muskrat. That the "naysayers" had more facts and a better handle on the situation was beyond their comprehension, or was it? They pushed this project to sanction for nefarious reasons, in my opinion, and I expect there will be an inquiry down the road that shows nothing short of negligence, at best. The truth will ultimately emerge and, when it does, history will not be kind to the politicians who foisted this project upon a passive, apathetic, and largely unsuspecting electorate.

    I don't know that I subscribe to the leadership style of Mr. Barry, who appears to be another of those "my way or the highway" kinds of business leaders. There is a place for single-mindedness but politics is a complicated art and there are many competing interests. No business model can successfully deal with the myriad of issues that politics presents and flexibility, combined with an ability to develop consensus, is crucial to real leadership. Compassion, concern, and ultimately fair-minded people, are needed more than ever in the political arena. Electoral reform, fair distribution of resources, devolution of powers to regions….all of these are essential to good governance. The recent consolidation of educational and health institutions are but two examples of misguided policies that will ultimately cause more problems than they solve and can only replace one bloated bureaucracy with another.

    In business, the more you consolidate power, the less strength you build in your grassroots economy. Competition is the mantra for big business but ironically it also gives a monopoly to large multinationals. In the final analysis, local control and decision-making is eliminated and leads to a feeling of disenfranchisement.

    1. Well said, Mr. Rogers. This generation of kool-aid drinkers will be long gone before the damage inflicted by Williams will even begin to be rectified.

  3. Danny can't afford to have Bill Barry getting to any buried information that the P.C. party has ben part and parcel to

  4. Dis anyone mention that he is/was on the Board of Directors for Emera Newfoundland and Labrador?

  5. The morning Fred Hutton had him on the radio sounded like he just woke up off the day bed, and was doing his best to humour VOCM, no interest, emotion, passion. Just something to keep something else out of the headlines.