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Monday 21 April 2014


Bill Barry has left the Tory Leadership race.   ‘Quitter’ is not an entry one would expect to see on his Resume. 

Barry entered the race with gusto, announcing his intention within days of Premier Dunderdale’s departure. When this Blogger wrote that Danny Williams had arranged a “fix” for Frank Coleman, Barry called up to confirm he was in the race “to the end”.

Of course, candidates change their minds all the time, as is their right. The oddity is that Barry invested so little effort in an enterprise about which he first seemed so passionate. 

It is fine to be critical of a Party’s policies, as Barry was; but renewal and change is created when energetic, creative and interesting people employ well-honed talents to climb to the top of the political ladder. Quitters rarely get to convince a large public of the value of their ideas. 

Then, too, it is fine for Bill Barry to criticize the P.C. Party’s system of delegated leadership conventions.  He knew, from the beginning, that it was constitutionally inscribed and, therefore, the only one legally permissible right now.  

For that reason he had an obligation, if his formal candidacy was a serious manifestation of intent, to play within the current rules and to seek change later, win or lose.
Mr. Barry’s candidacy began with little support; it ended the same way. 

The letter announcing his decision to withdraw noted: "As of now, not a single member of caucus has seen fit to place support in my direction …it's less than interesting for me to play against a stacked deck…the final outcome is preordained”.

Barry's comments are disingenuous and not just because of Danny Williams’ “fix” or his own failure to bring at least some members of caucus onside.

Having entered the Race, Mr. Barry had an obligation to make something of the opportunity; he barely even tried.

He was aware that, in all but two ridings, the one year terms of District Association Executives had run out.  As a result, the delegated process would deliver all eleven delegates rather than just six.  Inclusive of Tory Associations, like P.C. Youth and P.C. Women, an estimated 710 delegates would have been eligible to attend the Convention, in July.  Only about 160 ex-officio delegates, including the Members of the Tory Caucus, were exempt from this process, leaving roughly 78% to be chosen in a series of local elections.

On this basis, Mr. Barry’s opportunity to introduce change to his moribund Party was far from closed.  Indeed, the process offered him an enormous “bully pulpit” to speak about his favourite issues and ultimately, if he displayed the virtues of a fierce competitor, to win more delegates than Frank Coleman.

The road to the eighth floor is seldom as free or easy as it was for Kathy Dunderdale or as it is now for Frank Coleman.  Nor should it be. 

Traditionally it has required hard work on the part of the Candidates.  It is a prize in pursuit of which huge demands are placed upon large, highly skilled, well-funded, organized and motivated teams of workers. 

Bill Barry could have assembled such a campaign and promoted policies based upon the principles of open and transparent government, fiscal responsibility and clear headed social programs.   He might even have talked to a crowed convention and a larger public about the future of the Province.  

Yet, his Press Releases were an inadequate contribution especially given the current state of public policy and the Government’s recklessness.  Mr. Barry may well have had ideas but he allowed his personal foibles to get in their way.

His campaign needed interaction with the public.  He did not possess a skill for communications or characteristics like political savvy and intuition.  He was fond of disavowing any of the talents of a politician; yet he found room for his own inappropriate “bucket of shit” comment, which indiscreetly he termed a “Billism”.  

His view served to undercut politics as a noble and essential profession.  He might have helped raise its poor public perception by not becoming one of that vocation's oversubscribed legion of underachievers. 

That Frank Coleman, too, had hidden from public view any of the attributes of ‘politician’ ought to have been a clue to Barry that that the possibility of out-organizing his competitor held promise.

Attendance at the delegate selection meetings in Topsail, Clarenville, MUN and Heart’s Content was dreadful; the largest attracted only 129 people.  

Indeed, the low numbers offered proof that a professionally organized campaign might actually have displaced Coleman.  When he should have been building a strong team, Barry relied chiefly on his own persuasiveness.  That was a poor calculation. 

Leadership Candidate Bill Barry was not ready to win.

Mr. Barry had political aspirations. But he did not bring to their pursuit the single-mindedness he is known to have employed in his business.    

In the end, he succeeded only in confirming he did not have the discipline to play by the rules.  He had no stomach for the marathon of foot slogging, the little victories tempered by incessant disappointments that are part of the game; he was unprepared for the large investment of money and resources winning, and losing, requires.  

His departure has served only to have him play into the hands of his nemesis, Danny Williams, who has secured for Frank Coleman a free ride.

Mr. Barry did not have what it takes.  

We thank him for his efforts and wish him all the best.