Liberal leadership hopefuls square off

James McLeod
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Race for party’s top spot heats up in Gander debate

The five Liberal leadership candidates met for the first time Thursday evening in Gander, in a testy and occasionally openly hostile debate on the stage of the Joseph R. Smallwood Arts and Culture Centre.

All five candidates were able to agree that the PC government is doing things wrong, and that a Liberal government would be better.

The five leadership hopefuls — Paul Antle, Dwight Ball, Cathy Bennett, Jim Bennett and Danny Dumaresque — have spent the past couple of months touring the province and doing their best to recruit party members and supporters.

MHA Jim Bennett said in his opening statement that the 2015 election campaign started Thursday night.

For the most part, the debate was collegial, but it descended into a shouting match between Cathy Bennett, Ball and Antle.

In a one-on-one portion, Ball tried to score points against Cathy Bennett by listing off all the political appointments she has received from the Tory government, before saying, “I welcome you to the Liberal Party.”

By the end of the night, the debate had devolved into shouting matches several times, mostly centred around Muskrat Falls, and mostly involving candidates taking on Cathy Bennett, the only candidate who vocally supports the project.

Bennett held up, but occasionally seemed to have a hard time making her shouting heard over the shouting from other candidates.

The debate topics ran the gamut, though, from underground fracking to ferry service, health care and education.

Eligible members and voters will cast their ballots in November to pick the new leader.

The Gander debate is the first of several forums the party is planning; there are also events in the works for St. John’s, Corner Brook and Labrador after Labour Day.

Organizations: Liberal Party

Geographic location: Gander, Muskrat Falls, Corner Brook Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Julie
    August 26, 2013 - 12:49

    Mr James McLeod, Why don't you do a interview with Charles Murphy, Concerning Muskrat falls and fracking, also ask Mr Murphy, What would be his platform concerning the province and the people...This could be your news story for the year..So will the people, Then everyone will know why he was stop from running.

  • Greg
    August 25, 2013 - 06:09

    What hurting the provincial liberal, is what took place on july 5/2013, Concerning Charles Murphy of corner brook, When people choice was taking away from each and everyone of us. People got no trust in that party anymore,

  • half empty arts culture center really where the beef
    August 23, 2013 - 18:52

    where the thousands thousands of liberal supporters? they must be out in hyperspace; out on the internet hanging out in a town hall in the land of ON LINE; wicked place half empty; scattered thru out theatre; mostly OLD PEOPLE; seniors the life blood of the Fiberal party; expected the place to be blocked to the rafters; like memorial stadium was for danny williams back in 2000; that was a party on the rise; liberals days were numbered; grimes tobin efford they were done like dinner; i think PCs got no worry about next election; liberals no money; no grass roots workers; you need thousands thousands people to lay ground work to over turn government; they got ten in this district; hundred in another; no huge ground swell to move liberal party into gov.; no interest in liberal party east of deer lake; no seats; no candidates; no hope; alright for candidates like dwight ball and eddie joyce; they are millonares; can pay for their campaigns; they need 44 more millonares to run for them; well know millionares not despised millionares like danny dummersque.......the liberal rock is still sinking; while NDP is on the rise......

  • Tony Rockel
    August 23, 2013 - 12:58

    The Fiberals' support of Muskrat Falls speaks volumes to me. Their support for this lunacy makes them no better than the PCs.

  • Liberal Insider
    August 23, 2013 - 12:14

    It would be a worthwhile story to have a Telegram journalist look at the people who are behind the scenes of each campaign. It is very illuminating to see the former Roger Grimes and Siobhan Coady staffers with Antle and McBennett while the John Efford people are with Dumeresque (except Beaton Tulk) and then most current MHA's and MP's are with Ball. Really look at who is there, and their roles in the downfall of the Liberal party in 2003 and federally in 2011. You are only as good as the team around you and these teams just want to get back at the trough. Really, write an article on the staffers, you will laugh.

  • manitoban
    August 23, 2013 - 12:13

    newfie: you are absolutely correct. look no further then Manitoba and see what the socialist NDP have done. user fees on just about everything, 2.5 cents on gasoline, health care a complete mess, over-run government, highest taxes in the land, and how can I forget that they just raised the provincial sales tax from 7% to 8%. in order to do it they had to allow a feferendum on the issue. they actually refused and took away our vote. the ndp wouldn't run a lemonade stand, let alone your province. BEWARE what you vote for.

  • Harold
    August 23, 2013 - 11:23

    You never guess who I seen at the debate? Charles Murphy from corner brook. The liberal made a big mistake with this call...LOL..When the five candidates was ask a question concerning fracking they didn't know there left hand from there right..I can tell the people right now, we are in for hardtimes if the liberal become to power in 2015, there no one to vote for...Just lots of promises, They complain about the PCS over spending, There not even in power yet, and the way they were talking, we got lots of money falling from the sky

  • newfie
    August 23, 2013 - 10:30

    if any of you vote ndp then your voting for a union party and that really scares the life out of me imagine the unions would all wants a raise this province would be broke in 4 years they should change their name to the UNION PARTY OF NL WE NEED NEW PARTIES

  • saelcove
    August 23, 2013 - 10:03

    Bennett, depends witch way the wind is blowing fiberal one day con the next

  • Boyd
    August 23, 2013 - 08:44

    Pc's, Liberals, and NDP, can you see the difference, I can only the spelling, each and everyone of them wears a coat of many colours, Cathy Bennett is a prime example one day PC next day Liberal she should try NDP, maybe she has but no one knows yet, If the NDP has a leadership she will have a go at that one. Make no wonder so few people turn out on election day. Maybe more would if they put another box on the ballot """None of the above"".

  • Calvin
    August 23, 2013 - 08:39

    Hahaha, yeah where are the Liberal supporters now? You have 5 candidates vying for the leadership of the same party, shouting at each other as though half were from another party. Sums up politicians pretty well if you ask me, can't agree with someone from their own party any more than someone from a different party. As though all the members of the house don't eat lunch together every day, laughing about their fat pensions and the non-existent amount of work they have to do to obtain them. The general populace only votes for a color anyway, they know nothing about the issues at hand, only that they have voted Red or Blue since they started to vote, and figure they may as well continue that trend. If we are lucky the NDP will beat out the PC, just to give people someone else to complain about if nothing else, but we will probably be stuck with another PC majority government. Actually, if they just got rid of Kathy, I'd vote PC again in a heartbeat, better than the alternative......

  • Dianne
    August 23, 2013 - 08:12

    I have to say it was very sad to see what the liberal have to offer the people, Once more we are on a down hill spin. But there was one thing for me , that made my high light of the evening, Was when i met Charles Murphy for the first time, So I ask him where do he stand on fracking and the Muskrat fall's project...Now I got the understanding why the liberal said no to this man, Because he has common since, Very out spoken concerning our province... The only reason this man out of the provincial liberal leadership race, Because of his article of June 24/2013 in the western star. Not because of his paper or cheque

  • Betty
    August 23, 2013 - 07:57

    LOL..You couldn't call this a debate...They were ask simple question, But no straight answer. Just double talk. As for myself. I won't be voting for any of thems.

  • Scott
    August 23, 2013 - 07:36

    I was there last night also, Between Ball - Bennett - Antle, They were always in competition over,Who startes the most business, But all five candidates. Did agree on one thing, More spending ahead for the people. This time by the liberal

  • ThatsNuts
    August 23, 2013 - 07:12

    I really don't like a lot of the things that the PC's are doing, but last night the Liberal's once again proved to me they are not worth voting for. Guess i'll have to check out the NDP, hope for another party to start or start my own....

  • Saucy Face
    August 23, 2013 - 07:11

    So Danny Dumaresque would build a fixed link from Labrador to the island and it wouldn't cost taxpayers a cent and tourists would drive all the way to Labrador just to drive across this fixed link ... Riiiggght! Then we have Cathy Bennett; no words required ... So much for the Liberal Party getting elected. And unless the NDP can get someone such as Jack Harris to replace the hobbit as leader, Dunderdale has nothing to worry about in 2015. Let's face it, we are screwed.

    • Newfie boy
      August 23, 2013 - 08:49

      The PC's getting re elected! You are kidding right? The Liberals will win the election! We cannot afford another four years with this disaster of a government.

  • Filly
    August 23, 2013 - 06:52

    Cathy Bennett is toast. She never had a chance. If this is the first of several debates then I can see her sinking further and further. She is cannon fodder for the other candidates.

  • Don
    August 23, 2013 - 06:51

    Same old Liberals ----- tearing each other apart in public.

    • bayman
      August 23, 2013 - 07:41

      DON. Same old Liberals tearing each other apart. The PC's don't then. Get your head out of the sand.

  • Jon
    August 23, 2013 - 06:40

    Someone please tell the Liberals that Muskrat Falls is going ahead. Too late to stop it now, accept it and move on to other things. Tired of this crowd.

    • Joe
      August 23, 2013 - 10:04

      Another shining light in the business community. If it is completed, most people won't be able to live in the province. But then when all the jobs are gone the business community can support the rest of the people who are on social services. It could be the last laugh.

  • Ben
    August 23, 2013 - 06:34

    I think Bennett maybe a little out of her league, and this is with this bunch! Slinging burgers can't get you everything Cathy! Making millions on selling greasy burgers to kids doesn't seem that appealing to everyone.

  • picky
    August 23, 2013 - 06:08

    Y A W N !!!