Manning muses about leadership as Oliver bows out

James McLeod
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PC party sets firm date for convention of July 4-5

On July 5, the province will know who its next premier will be and it’s safe to say that it won’t be St. John’s businessman Charlie Oliver.

Two weeks after Kathy Dunderdale announced her resignation as premier of the province, the leadership race to replace her is starting to take shape.

Oliver was thinking about it, but he’s out; meanwhile, Sen. Fabian Manning is saying that he’s seriously thinking about it.

Reached by phone from Ottawa, Manning said he’s gauging support, and watching as the race firms up before he makes a final decision.

“Who else is running is a major part of my thought process. And, you know, the leadership campaign is one portion of this process and then the impending election is another part,” Manning said.

“It’s a big decision, you know. I won’t camouflage it in any way.

“But it’s something that certainly I have an interest in, and certainly I’ve been very pleased, to be honest with you, with the calls I have received and the offers of support — both human support and financial support.”

The leadership convention will take place during the weekend of July 4-5 at the St. John’s Convention Centre.

It will be a delegated convention, but most of the other rules around the race haven’t been firmed up yet. Many of the prominent potential candidates seem to be keeping their powder dry until they have a better sense of who’s in and who’s out.

Within caucus, ministers Darin King, Steve Kent, Keith Hutchings and Derrick Dalley are said to be considering their options.

Minister Paul Davis has publicly backed out.

Oliver issued a news release mid-morning on Wednesday to say he won’t run.

A day earlier, Ottawa lobbyist and occasional “Open Line” radio host Tim Powers said he isn’t running either.

Former Tory natural resources minister Shawn Skinner is rumoured to be interested in the job. Political watchers have also mentioned former ministers Paul Oram and John Ottenheimer as possibilities.

As Manning ponders his candidacy, part of the consideration has to be his complicated relationship with the PC party.

He was thrown out of caucus when he ran afoul of then premier Danny Williams; then, a few years later, he was the main target of Williams’ Anything But Conservative (ABC) campaign when he ran for re-election in the federal seat of Avalon.

“I was point-man for sure. No doubt about that,” Manning said with a laugh.

“I’ve learned some valuable lessons; I’ve got some political scars that no one else would ever, ever have.”

But through it all, Manning said he’s never been anything but a Progressive Conservative.

“I’m not a johnny-come-lately to the Tory party of Newfoundland and Labrador. I mean, I was born a Tory,” he said.

“Whether right, wrong or indifferent, I sat as an independent — because I didn’t have a whole lot of choice at that time.”

Manning has been appointed to the Senate twice by Prime Minister Stephen Harper — the first time in 2008, then he resigned in order to try to win back his seat in the House of Commons in the 2011 election. After he lost in 2011, he was re-appointed to the Senate.

It’s unclear if he’d resign his Senate seat again if he decides to go after the provincial PC party leadership.

“I don’t even know what the process is in that regard,” he said.

As for his past with the party, Manning said that there’s been a lot of change within the PC caucus since he was last a member of the House of Assembly.

“I look at the caucus of today that’s in Newfoundland versus when I left there — I’ll put it to you that way — eight years ago,” he said. “Twenty-four of the 34 caucus members were not there when I was there. There’s only 10 caucus members that sit in today’s caucus that were members of caucus when I was in caucus.”

Oliver, meanwhile, said he’ll be putting his efforts into setting up a think-tank to look at policy problems facing the province.

He said he wants to bring people together to look at education, health care and especially the issues facing the province’s pension plans.

“They’re policies for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that we need to have researched and looked at without the emotion of a political bias,” he said.

Oliver said he doesn’t know who else will end up getting into the race, but so far he likes what he sees from Bill Barry, the one candidate who has formally announced that he’s running.

“(The PC party) needs to be re-energized. Danny did a phenomenal job. He was just full of that piss and vinegar and that drive that we needed. Then we ended up with a process in between — and God love Kathy, she did the best she could — but a different personality, a different type and a different skill set,” Oliver said.

“Bill Barry has got all the energy, all the tenacity and all the giddy-up that this province needs.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Convention Centre.It, House of Commons

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Skeptical Cynic
    February 08, 2014 - 09:46

    I find it extremely troubling... indeed, downright disturbing... that a loyal Harperite... an individual who stood in the House of Commons to applaud the screwing over of NL... could possibly become premier of this province.

  • Corporate Psycho
    February 06, 2014 - 20:54

    How many no's can this guy take.

  • Craig
    February 06, 2014 - 20:28

    Fabian Manning has already been appointed to the Senate TWICE! He was voted out TWICE by the voters of Avalon and then put right back in the Senate by Stephen Harper. What a disgrace.

  • Robert J Bowen
    February 06, 2014 - 13:22

    How gullible, moronic and plain stupid does Mr. Manning think the people of Newfoundland and Labrador really are? I have to applaud him, though, for his gumption to admit that the thought has entered his mind.Awake from your sleep,Fabian,stay where you are, until you retire again with another hefty pension.Why not go after "Steve's" job?

  • Virginia Waters
    February 06, 2014 - 10:36

    Well I think it would be nice if he ran - assuming that he would have to step down as a senator before doing so. He would lose, of course, as well he should given his very public choice to side with Stephen Harper in one of the most important disputes this province has ever had with Ottawa (and there have been many). The hope would be - that after losing - Harper would not automatically shove him back into that patronage ridden, entitlement driven upper house. If so, Manning might find himself caught between the rock and a hard place. He might then have to resort to making money the way the rest of us do - earn it!

  • Guy Incognito
    February 06, 2014 - 10:21

    Fabian is a bigger Harper suck-up than Dunderdale was.......why would Fabian think that anyone wants him? How many times was he defeated before accepting a patronage senate seat?

  • Brian
    February 06, 2014 - 10:13

    How many times do the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have to say "no" before this person gets it? This person is an utter disgrace and it is a mockery of democracy that he is considered a representative of Newfoundland and Labrador and her people in any way, shape, form or capacity.

  • Lest We Forget! Remember Why! We want only devoted politicians!
    February 06, 2014 - 08:33

    Do you remember why Fabian Manning is a Senator? Do you remember when he turned his back on our province and our people and immediately he was given a patronage appointment by Prime Minister Harper and was put in Senate for being a good boy? I will not forget the dastardly deeds that have been committed on our province by the politicians we elected over the past 65 years that saw our province's natural resources creating vibrant economies elsewhere right across the county with the give-away of our coveted commodities in the raw state. For instance Fish, Iron Ore, Nickel Ore, Ores and Minerals of all types besides the former two, Hydroelectric Energy, Oil, etc., etc. For Creation's Sake Newfoundlanders and Labradorians please Wise-up and do not forget our past neglect or we will keep going down the same road that we have been travelling on forever.

  • Dan
    February 06, 2014 - 08:19

    He's got to be delusional. He couldn't even win his riding last time he run.

  • Im not stevies boy
    February 06, 2014 - 06:52

    message to Fabian : stay where your to til we comes where your at.

  • Horace Pi
    February 06, 2014 - 06:26

    Give it up Fabian! Enough is enough