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Monday 14 April 2014


The two contenders for the P.C Leadership are having a tough time finding their footing. Bill Barry and Frank Coleman, two successful businessmen, have not quite grasped the challenge for which they have signed on.

As business people, they understand the principles and challenges of team-building and organization, financing, management effectiveness, and marketing. These skills are as relevant to winning the Office of Premier as they are perquisites to running profitable enterprises. Given their backgrounds, who should be more capable of defining goals, conjuring strategies and demonstrating success? 

So far neither Candidate, especially Coleman, has demonstrated he understands the elements of a province-wide campaign or the capability to draw all of them together.
I don’t get it!  Roughly 45 people attended a delegate selection meeting in the District of Topsail, 100 in Clarenville (Trinity North) and a handful at Memorial!  Even the third Party NDP can attract such a turnout!   Voters numbering in the 300-500 range, sometimes far more, came out in earlier leadership races when Peckford, Rideout and Verge were contenders. 

Why was the turnout so high, then, and not now?  Those candidates boasted skilled organizations.  Perhaps, they understood that failing to get their delegates elected meant the math would work against them.

Almost 24,000 voters participated in last year’s Liberal Leadership contest; based upon early showings, the Tories will not come close to that figure.

If either Frank Coleman or Bill Barry were asked to compete for the right to manufacture and market a widget you can bet your booties that, as consumers, you would already be inundated with information as to the advantages of Coleman’s widget over Barry’s and vice versa. 
Related story:

Politics is not the same as making or marketing widgets but many of the principles employed in the winning strategies of business are very similar. 

Most elemental is the requirement that Candidates will organize at a high level and communicate with voters; even then their best efforts (or the perfect widget) might still fail.

So far, the Leadership race has no energy.  It has no focus.  It is inspiring no one.  Yet, the Contest is (or ought to be) an essential aspect of the Party’s renewal process; its importance is even more pronounced in consequence of the Virginia Waters loss.

Frank Coleman is not talking policy (or anything else). He has said he wants to do more of what the Tories did previously.   That’s not going to work.    

If he expects Danny Williams to carry the can, that won’t work either.  Danny has just torn up the pavement in Virginia Waters and proved he is passé.  Anyway, the public want to hear from Coleman, not from Danny.

Bill Barry is writing policies though he is not getting the notice he needs, at least not yet.

Barry must know this is a Province in which the media is fixated on road-kill and weather.  Though his early missteps may have given reporters fuel to deride him and pan his press releases it is, nevertheless, up to him to figure out a way to be heard – even if he has to get Cecil Hare and Ryan Snodden banished to same place Kathy Dunderdale is holding up.

Barry’s renderings, especially on the fiscal position of the Province, reflect a level of knowledge that one might expect from a serious leadership aspirant.  They reveal concerns about our massive spending increases, expansion of the bureaucracy of government and an over reliance on oil revenues.  He rightly notes the price of oil is difficult to predict, and acknowledges the trend has a downward bias, suggesting change is needed in our fiscal decisions. 

Barry warns of the risk of a price decline occurring as this Province’s need for capital continues to ramp up, especially for the Muskrat Falls Project.

If Frank Coleman is insistent that everything is fine and we just need to do more of what the Tories have already done, we will be denied any ideas he might have. We will possess only his assurance the Province is in for a glorious future. 

Perhaps Coleman is taking a different approach. Perhaps he believes the delegate selection process has little to do with policy.     

Even if this is true (and I don’t think it is), it is no excuse for poor organization. 

To be fair, the task facing Coleman and Barry is daunting.  It is fraught with personal risk and challenge.  It should be.  No free pass should be afforded anyone seeking the job of the Province’s First Minister.     

Both men would do well to read Nalcor Board Chairman, Ken Marshall's letter to the Weekend Telegram.  Marshall confirms, in full public view, that the arrogance and frequent displays of ignorance exhibited during the Dunderdale period, were not her exclusive purview. That Premier Tom Marshall has not already put him in his place is a manifestation that nothing about this Government, attitudinally or otherwise, has changed.  

That said, I wonder what Frank Coleman and Bill Barry think about Ken Marshall’s comments?  Do they also see him as a Neanderthal playing defense for Ed Martin when the public is tired of excuses for Nalcor’s secrecy? (More on this subject, Thursday.)

Likely the public are not even watching, having tuned out sometime ago.

This is exactly why the P.C Leadership contest is so important.  If they can’t win the public’s focus now, when do they hope to begin? 

The two Candidates need to dust off those manuals on how to sell a better widget.

Otherwise, the public may not even know when the Race is over.