New Democratic MHA Dale Kirby doesn’t know whether he’ll remain a member of the NDP following a week of turmoil and fighting within his party’s caucus.
Speaking to The Telegram today, Kirby said the only thing he can say for sure is that he intends to see his House of Assembly term through until 2015.
Asked if that means he may leave the NDP caucus to sit as an independent, he said he’s not sure.
“I can’t honestly tell you what’s going to happen here,” Kirby said. “I mean, I have no idea at this point. I had no idea this week was going to turn into what it did. I don’t think I’ve got a satisfactory response for you on that.”
The party remains deeply divided, after the four MHAs sent a letter to leader Lorraine Michael this week questioning her ability to recruit candidates to run for the party and calling for a party leadership convention.
New Democrat MHA Christopher Mitchelmore took to Facebook to say that he still wants a leadership review to look at whether Lorraine Michael is still the best person to be at the helm.
“In my opinion this should have been seen as an opportunity to stimulate party renewal and growth, when it comes to engaging party building from the grassroots, establishing your policies and messaging across Newfoundland & Labrador under a rigid timeline,” Mitchelmore wrote.
On Tuesday, MHAs George Murphy and Gerry Rogers have backtracked a bit, saying that they wanted a leadership review as a means of party renewal. Murphy said he hoped the party would give Michael a “ringing endorsement” and in the wake of it all, he feels like he betrayed Michael.
But Mitchelmore is sticking to his guns, saying he meant what he said in the original letter.
“A request was made for a Leadership Convention to be held. That is quite clear,” he wrote on Facebook. He added, “The letter acknowledges the good work of Lorraine, it would not have excluded Lorraine Michael. I believe there needs to be mechanisms for Leadership Reviews and Convention calls in any political party. I agree this can not be determined by Caucus alone or a Party Executive but the party members. I stand by this decision to call for a Leadership Convention.”
As for Kirby, he was batting back at accusations from Murphy made on the radio this morning, saying that there were threats and intimidation to get him to sign the letter.
“George Murphy is a lot bigger fella than me, so it certainly wasn't physical intimidation,” Kirby said. “Despite what he has alleged, at no time did I threaten to go to the media if they didn’t send this letter.”
Kirby has been the most vocal critic of Michael as the whole political fight played out. Speaking to the Telegram today, he questioned her decision to go to the media before talking to the caucus about the leadership concerns.
“The problems we had before, have been made more grave in recent days,” he said. “Going on the suppertime news on Monday before speaking or even communicating with all of the members of the caucus was very unfortunate.”
A lot of the controversy has centred about who exactly leaked the NDP letter to the media. At one point, only six people had copies of it — the four MHAs who signed it, Michael, and party president Kathleen Connors.
Kirby said it wasn’t him who leaked it; he said after it was written, the four MHAs talked about exactly that.
“Once all of the signatures were on the letter, I looked at Gerry Rogers and I said, ‘Right now, I tell you, I commit to making sure this is not leaked,’” Kirby said. “I looked at her and said, ‘I will not leak this letter.’”