St. John’s businessman Paul Antle launches his campaign for leader of the Liberal party. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
When Liberal leadership candidate Paul Antle kickstarted his campaign Thursday, he didn’t even offer a cursory glance towards his competitors before he took direct aim at Premier Kathy Dunderdale.
Speaking to supporters and media in Conception Bay South, Antle launched into a lengthy condemnation of the current Tory government.
“There is no accountability or transparency. There is no oversight. There is no participation or inclusion. The Tories hide their decisions behind regressive legislation. It’s an insult to the people,” he said.
Antle was the last candidate to enter the Liberal leadership race.
Antle stepped up to run against MHA Dwight Ball, MHA Jim Bennett, former MHA Danny Dumaresque and businesswoman Cathy Bennett.
Antle ran for the Liberal party federally in the past, and he has been talked about as a potential leadership candidate for years.
He was asked more than once by reporters why he chose to run now and what separates him from his four rivals.
Initially, he responded by taking further aim at Dunderdale.
“I looked around and I saw no leadership in this province. I looked at a government that was worn out and tired, that doesn’t have a plan for the future of this province, and I decided to step up,” he said.
“I look at the fact that the leadership in this province has been dismal of late. I personally have issue with that.”
When asked again what exactly distinguishes him from the other leadership candidates, and why Liberals should vote for him, Antle talked about the decision to get into the leadership contest.
“My fellow colleagues have all gone through the same decision-making process that I did. It’s a very tough decision to step forward and enter public life at this level; I commend them for doing so,” he said.
“It’s great for the Liberal party; it gives a lot of energy and momentum to the Liberal party, and I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun in the next four months.”
Antle was introduced by Liberal MP Scott Simms, who said that he’ll make the best leader for the Liberal Party.
Simms emphasized his friendship with Antle — he called Antle a “mentor” — and his history in the party.
“I’m not going to begrudge anybody who hasn’t spent as many years involved in the Liberal party,” Simms said.
“To me, Paul Antle, yes he’s spent 25 years in this party, and that’s a plus. But the biggest plus of Paul Antle is his knowledge and his vision.”
Liberal candidates have until the end of September to sign up new party members and supporters. All qualified members and supporters will vote to pick the new leader in November.