Barry talks fish, Bill 29 and how he’s not a politician

James
James McLeod
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Bill Barry claims that he’s not a politician — which is a little bit strange, considering he announced this week that he wants to be premier of the province.

Bill Barry announced this week he is seeking the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative party.

Barry spoke to The Telegram after he formally launched his candidacy to replace Kathy Dunderdale as leader of the PC party.

“I wasn’t a politician yesterday, and I won’t be one tomorrow,” he said. “I think that the province needs some business leadership.

“I think that the province needs somebody like me — now, whether it’s me, the people will determine that — but the province needs somebody like me with a common sense view that grew up through the school of hard knocks.”

And if it sounds like Barry is styling himself like another business-and-common-sense leader from recent political memory — former premier Danny Williams — well, Barry doesn’t mind hearing that sort of comparison.

“Obviously there are certain commonalities that a lot of people are drawing between myself and Danny Williams,” he said.

And similar to Williams’ pitch back in 2003, Barry is promising capable governance and plenty of transparency.

“I’m offering myself, available to the people of the province of Newfoundland to be a good manager for them. And I believe in open government. I believe in accountability. I believe in transparency and I’m a straight shooter,” he said.

Ever since Dunderdale resigned earlier this month, behind the scenes Tories have been testing support and eyeing the party leadership.

At least four members of cabinet are said to be considering the job, along with half a dozen people who don’t currently hold a seat in the legislature.

But Barry is the first one to step forward and make it official.

He said he’s got 61 years of experience in the fishery — he’s 61-years-old, and he’s been immersed in the family fish processing business right from the beginning.

Speaking to The Telegram, he didn’t bring up fishery policy until he was asked about it, but he didn’t shy away either.

He said government can help the industry by partnering with people who want to invest in it — either plant operators or harvesters — but there’s no doubt that the size of the industry is shrinking and changing.

“Government doesn’t have to size the industry right, it’s already happening. Some fishermen are leaving the industry, some other guys are buddying up or buying them out,” he said. “Ultimately, the fish operations that are going to exist in the future have to be more mechanized, with fewer, more technical people that are paid much better incomes.”

Also, the provincial government really needs to take care of the seal situation.

“We can’t be inundated with a massive predator herd of seven or eight million animals,” Barry said.

When it comes to the current state of the PC party, Barry acknowledged that things aren’t great; a majority of people disapprove of the way the government is running things, and when she resigned, Dunderdale was the least popular premier in the country.

Barry is promising to reverse the deeply unpopular Bill 29 amendments to the province’s access to information legislation, something that interim-premier Tom Marshall has already said he’s willing to look at.

Barry said it’s time for Tories to just plainly admit that they were wrong on Bill 29.

“A lot of this stuff is out of sync with the vast majority of Newfoundlanders,” he said. “It’s really time for the party to belly up to the bar and realize that their discussion around this issue was not right.”

But when it comes to Dunderdale specifically, Barry is reticent to criticize.

He said she did good work for the province.

“I really don’t want to start saying, ‘Well, Kathy Dunderdale should have done this or she shouldn’t have done that,’ ” he said. “She’s put 10 years of life in public service, and 99.999 per cent of those were yeoman’s service and valiant effort.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • trish
    February 05, 2014 - 14:47

    conflict of interest definition A situation in which someone who has to make a decision in an official capacity stands to profit personally from the decision. For example, a judge who rules on a case involving a corporation in which he or she owns stock has a conflict of interest. It does not make a difference if Bill Barry turns his corporation over to his family, it is still a conflict of interest if he were to be our leader. He should not be allowed to run. We wan't a real leader that is there for the people, not someone on another power trip, or looking to profit their own pocket!

    • Conflict of Interest is rampant from time to time in the Newfoundland and Labrador government.
      February 06, 2014 - 19:34

      trish: Conflict of Interest is a cankerous sore that is inherent in the political system in Newfoundland and Labrador. I will never forget the dismantling of Fisheries Products International and the politicos and their business friends who gathered around the carcass of that Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation to take part in the dismantling feast. Every year I observe so much "conflict of interest" with my untrained legal eyes, I wonder what the trained legals observe. It is sickening and I am wondering who is going to take the reins to clean up the corruption that swirls around in our government chambers and bring those involved to justice. Those who ran for government in the past knew that if they were successful they had full control of everything and nobody would notice what they did with that control. From observing some of the names of the people who have floated and offered their names for leader of the Liberal and PC Party over the past few months, I believe they still think that the Newfoundland and Labrador electorate are are as complacent as they were in the past, but I think future would-be politicians will have to rethink that thought. I hope the would-be politicians see what is being said on this and other sites about them and they reevaluate their positions.

  • The province of Newfoundland and Labrador needs a complete change in governance to prosper
    February 02, 2014 - 21:20

    Matter of fact we should throw off the political yoke and adapt a Business template to guide our province into an economy and prosperity. We have the resources and the location to accommodate Great Change and as a result we can prosper with the right accounting and auditing systems in place. We don't need the political system whose yoke we have been under for 65 years and has kept us enslaved without creating an economy. I wouldn't hire Mr. Barry as the person to effect this change though, in my opinion, he already has too much say over our heritage resource, the fish. We need nothing to do with those already holding us hostage in the business establishments, they have had 65 years to turn things around and they didn't. We Really Need Change in every department and Complete Change is required to do the job.

  • Shore BOY
    February 01, 2014 - 10:56

    If it isn't Bill 29 then its Bill Barry. LOL. This Tory ship is sinking but now some partisans would argue that they are just taking on too much water. I'd say Barry is chasing more then a piece of corn on a hook. He must of been on watch one night and seen what OCI was catching. Rats from a sinking ship is a good way to describe the situation they find themselves in, on board the S.S. Tom Marshall. But I suppose there will always be a few rats to risk sneaking back on to try and salvage a few crumbs or a piece of cheese before she capsizes.

  • Robert
    February 01, 2014 - 10:30

    Now that sounds refreshing at the very least. I'm not a fan of party nonsense so whatever label is on the governing party is not important to me at all. Just this one article shed far more light on what the man intends to do then what Ball or Michaels have said in years and years!

  • Buster Garvick
    February 01, 2014 - 07:57

    I remember Barry's intolerant zealotry over the denominational schools issue during the 1990s. After that spectacle I never did care for the cut of the man's jib.

  • original townie
    February 01, 2014 - 06:51

    Is Barry the right person for the job....that's to be determined. I will agree 100% with him when it comes to running this province. A strong, proven business background is an absolute must. Too many politicians now / have been running this province who are hard pressed to run a household. Time for a leader from outside the existing party members as none are qualified from within.