Businessman talks to Liberals about vision

James McLeod
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Dean MacDonald brings fundraiser to standing ovation

Businessman and prominent Liberal supporter Dean MacDonald speaks to the Port de Grave district association fundraiser in Upper Island Cove Saturday night. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

No one in the room Saturday night seemed to be willing to acknowledge that businessman Dean MacDonald might be the next leader of the Liberal party.

But MacDonald — and many others — weren’t ruling out that possibility either.

MacDonald was the keynote speaker at the Port de Grave district association annual fundraising dinner.

MacDonald has worked closely with former premier Danny Williams in business, and he has served as chairman of Newfoundland Hydro. He is someone who has been talked about for years as a potential leader of the Liberal party, and shortly after the provincial election last fall, he started openly musing about the possibility.

Decries lack of vision

In Upper Island Cove Saturday night, MacDonald devoted nearly all of his 30-minute speech to attacking the current government, and making the case that the Progressive Conservatives, led by Premier Kathy Dunderdale, lack vision and cannot competently manage the province.

MacDonald attacked Dunderdale on what he saw as poor fiscal management, and while he said he’s in favour of the Muskrat Falls project, he thinks the government has “fumbled” the process to get it developed.

“I don’t think we have a vision, I don’t think we have a plan for the province. I don’t feel that we’re all on a team who all know where we’re headed,” MacDonald said. “The party that’s been in power too long believes their own bullshit, and the party that will sweep into power doesn’t, and that’s us.”

He didn’t really get into it in his speech, but MacDonald left the clear impression that he is someone who has a vision for the province.

MacDonald continued to play coy about whether he’s actually interested in running for office and trying to take the reins of the party.

Current Leader Dwight Ball has the job on an interim basis, and the party plans to pick a new permanent leader some time in 2013 or 2014.

“I’m happy to be active,” MacDonald said. “There’s no leadership race, you know. I’ve said I’m interested at some point in the future, but I’m still a very young man, and I really like what Dwight is doing to rebuild the party. He’s to be commended.”

Party members in the room were similarly coy.

Nobody was ready to come right out and endorse MacDonald as a future leader, but one party member specifically requested that The Telegram make a note when he got a standing ovation at the end of his speech.

Retired Port de Grave MHA Roland Butler said he liked what he heard in MacDonald’s speech.

“I think Mr. MacDonald, seems to me the type of individual that has the attention of the people,” he said. “I think he’ll catch on and it will be something that will really add to the Liberal Party.”

Current west coast MHA Andrew Parsons said what MacDonald was saying was what a lot of Liberals are feeling right now.

“He delivers a message that’s pretty consistent among all of us that the current government lacks vision,” Parsons said. “Even when I talk to people on the street, no matter if I’m in St. John’s or Port Aux Basques, people have issues with the current government.”

MacDonald is currently involved in a Liberal “renewal committee” along with former leader Kevin Aylward and former MP Siobhan Coady. They plan to tour the province in the coming months to try to reconnect to the rank-and-file party members.

Many Liberals at Saturday night’s dinner acknowledged that there have been problems in the past. Longtime Liberal and retired MHA John Crane said the party is coming through a state of “disarray” right now.

“Right now we’re nothing to be happy with, but I think with the right group, I think we could rebuild pretty fast,” he said.

MacDonald, for his part, ended his speech with a call for party unity.

“We have to as a party make sure that we work together — no fights. Let’s  get this province back to where it should be, because right now I’ve got to tell you, I’m worried about it,” he said. “I actually believe that that’s very, very possible, and it looks like it’s going to have to be us to do it.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Grave district association, Newfoundland Hydro, Progressive Conservatives Liberal Party

Geographic location: Upper Island Cove, Port de Grave MHA Roland Butler, Port Aux Basques

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Recent comments

  • Grassroots are There-Leadership is Not
    May 01, 2012 - 12:04

    There are tens of thousands of Liberals who did not vote in the last general election because of the Liberal lack of leadership. The bunch they have going around the Province to discuss renewal and the chimpanzees who are paid to run the party are equally a huge part of the problem. It's an exclusive little club of people who long for the glory days back at the trough but do not have the ideas to make the electorate listen. Time to clean house Dwight and hire your own staff, not what was forced on you.

  • Maggy Carter
    April 30, 2012 - 21:16

    If Liberals in this province make the mistake of anointing Dean MacDonald as head of their party, the Dunderdale PCs will become Newfoundland's de facto centrist party. MacDonald is more intelligent that either Dunderdale or Michaels, but his political philosophy is more right wing than even Williams. With all his flaws, Williams at least had enough grit to stand up to the federal government and to large corporations like Exxon and Abitibi. Don't expect that from MacDonald. His candidacy for the Liberal leadership will provide a very revealing test, not only of how the party sees itself in the era of the mega project, but whether ordinary Newfoundlanders have abandoned their cherished principles of compassion and fairness in pursuit of the almighty buck. There are people in this province who would be happy to see our natural environment polluted, despoiled and carved up like large chunks of northern Alberta if it would put more money in their pockets right away. Development for development's sake and to hell with the next generation. Muskrat is not about making sure the average Newfoundlander has a cheap, clean source of electricity. It's about heaping a tonne of debt and sky-high electrical rates on the backs of middle and lower income families in order to make already profitable mining projects even more profitable. Its about investors, shareholders and financial institutions - not about voters. They are but a means to an end. What this province dearly needs is an intelligent, inspired leader who is prepared to be a rabid defender of the little guy - the small fisherman, the small businessman - not come-from-away corporations that have always thought of Newfoundland and Labrador as a place to wipe their feet. We need someone who understands the importance of using our resource wealth wisely, sparingly, carefully to make life better for people in every part of the province and in every income bracket. We need someone who can do more than scream at Ottawa - someone who insists quietly, confidently, intelligently that either Confederation starts working for this province or we find another road to financial security, economic opportunity and social justice. The question is whether such a leader currently exists in this province. Where is our next William Coaker?

  • Lola Roberts
    April 30, 2012 - 14:05

    Mr. MacDonald, this province has never been more competently managed;a low debt ratio, high credit rating, growing population, low unemployment, and booming economy are just a few of the indicators of competent mangement.

  • Terrence
    April 30, 2012 - 13:22

    So, the party that is currently in a state of “disarray” right now, with a potential leader who will not commit and who is afraid to commit in case the "renewal" plan doesn't work, wants us to believe that they have a plan? Do you understand why I cannot freely give you my vote now or in the future? Why would I chose to turn away from this government who has done their job well and continues to prove they are responisble? We have more jobs, our economy is thriving, our population is increasing, our debt is getting smaller, we are a 'have' province with a credit rating of A, tuition remains frozen at an all time low, new schools and hospitals are being built, taxes are the lowest they have ever been, tourism numbers are the highest they've evr been and as I see it, overall NL & Lab is at an all time high. Choose the Liberal party who is in disarray? I don't think so.

  • Scott
    April 30, 2012 - 12:33

    Sad to see what the Liberal are coming too...First Mrs Jones...Then Kelvin Alywards...Now Dwight Ball...Dean Macdonald..Then Jim Bennett is going around...Telling the people the Liberal got a plan..concerning the fishery...Please people put your BRAKE ON...GET A NEW LEADER ASAP..BECAUSE IF THE PARTY KEEP UP THE WAY THEY ARE GOING...THERE WILL BE NO LIBERAL PARTY TO TALK ABOUT.

  • Charles
    April 30, 2012 - 11:50

    Isn't this the same guy...who wouldn't accept Danny William CHALLENGE...

  • Don II
    April 30, 2012 - 09:57

    Dean MacDonald was just preaching to the converted. The Liberals in Port de Grave District are the same folks who turned former MHA and MP and Cabinet Minister and local savior John Efford into an Angel until he opened his mouth and fell from his cloud. It appears that Dean MacDonald is Danny Williams alter ego and right hand man. If the Liberal Party is naive or stupid enough to anoint MacDonald as their next leader the people can prepare themselves for a continuation of the Williams Government wearing Liberal red. What a disaster that will turn out to be for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador whether they believe it or not. Inexplicably, the people of Newfoundland have always voted against their own best interests and will continue to do so. Ignorance is bliss! Elite interests want the Muskrat Falls project to proceed come hell or high water and if the PC's won't do it the Liberals under MacDonald will! Political parties in Newfoundland are there to do the bidding of elites and well connected local interests and nothing more.Proper management of the Provinces finances is not really a priority. Politics in Newfoundland is totally corrupt and needs to be reformed and cleaned up from top to bottom! There is something in the Newfoundland psyche which requires that a dictator must be in charge or the Province will not function properly. Nothing could be further from the facts! The people of Newfoundland should try to find and elect someone to be a Premier who won't take orders from outside lobbyists, who won't meet with certain interests in secret to scheme and connive and will not be a flunky and lackey for the elites and the well connected local interests. Regrettably, that is not the case today!

  • Maurice E. Adams
    April 30, 2012 - 08:57

    Here is a quote by Ed Martin from his Leadership Blog as late as April 24th, 2012 ----- "Hydro forecasts that in 2015 without the addition of new generation on the island, the island electricity system will exceed the generation reliability criteria Hydro has set with the Public Utilities Board (PUB).... To bring this risk of outages down within the reliability criteria approved by the PUB, Hydro needs to add new generation to the system by 2015."......... Now if you applied Nalcor's forecast model (which is too high in any event) to "actual" demand for 2010, we would not need more power til 2019. And if you did the same thing for year 2011's "actual" peak demand, we would not need more power until 2026 ........... So here we have Ed Martin still using that 2015 date WHEN HE KNOWS THE DIFFERENCE!!!!!!! ..... What does that tell you?

  • Worried, St. John's
    April 30, 2012 - 08:24

    Couldn't say it any better Maurice, what is wrong with everyone who's willing to give away their hard earned money to Nalcor. I heard they were best buddies.

  • Grandma
    April 30, 2012 - 08:12

    Another Yvonne Jones? My, my, Norman are you hoping to see the Liberal Party wiped out altogether? With all respect to Ms. Jones for her effort, under her leadership the party lost much ground. I don't know Mr. MacDonald, but I have observed that the party has made little progress since Mr. Ball assumed leadership. If the party is to rise to new strength and a position to defeat the PC party and fend off the attack of the NDP it needs a leader with vision. I suggest the back room boys stop interfering, as they did in the case of John Efford, and let the people choose the leader.

  • deans patronage
    April 30, 2012 - 08:01

    Ahh trying to finish what danny couldn't. I've seen this T-shirt before. I guess we have no choice but to support the orange crush because lets face it.....he isn't going to get rich off a MHA's salary.

  • Too Funny
    April 30, 2012 - 07:59

    Here's a new Bushism "The party that’s been in power too long believes their own bullshit, and the party that will sweep into power doesn’t, and that’s us.” Translation: We'll bullshit (lie) you also but it's okay because we know it's bullshit. Gee, I feel so much better.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    April 30, 2012 - 07:48

    We have less demand now than in 2001. The Telegram reported on April 16 that by late 2011 demand had peaked at 1,382 MW. Nalcor's Exhibit 103 shows that demand in 2009 was 1,601 MW, in 2010 was 1,478 MW and in 2001 was 1,435 MW........... So what does that say? ----- Demand is GOING DOWN. We have no need for more power when our existing installed NET capacity is 1,958 MW ---- leaving more than 600 MW UNUSED.-------- And Dean's 'vision' is for us to double our debt for power that WE DO NOT NEED...... Furthermore, with 40% going to Danny's mining companies in Labrador, 30% for NO REVENUES to Emera (it is really 30% because the Term Sheet will say that Emera gets its power over a 16-hour day peak demand period, which will in effect require 30, not 20% of Muskrat power to supply that)..... That will mean 30% left for island ratepayers ---- and it seem that Muskrat will only provide a firm energy supply of about 3,000 GWh (not the 4,500 as reported). Our 30% of 3,000 GWh will be 900 GWh (less than 1/3rd the 'firm' capacity of Holyrood)..... And we will pay about $10 Billion for that? $10 billion is enough to pay the oil for Holyrood for the next 100 years ---- and if we use natural gas --- 200 years........... SOME LEADER, SOME VISION.

  • lumptn
    April 30, 2012 - 07:25

    Is Mr. McDonald's only claim to fame is that he worked with Danny William's? I think there are quite a few that can say the same......

  • Norman, Labrador
    April 30, 2012 - 06:43

    Who would be so neive to support this guy. I predict that Mr.McDonald will be the downfall of the Liberal Party. Wait a minute, they are already down & out, aren't they. In my humble opinion, Dwight Ball & Dean McDonald are not the one to save them. They really need another Yvonne Jones.