Coleman defends PC record, attacks Ball

James McLeod
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Premier-designate Frank Coleman wants people to stop and think about just how great the Progressive Conservative party’s record has been for the past decade and how he’s the guy to keep it going.

Premier designate Frank Coleman spoke to the Rotary Club of St. John’s on Thursday at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland.

His speech Thursday was a full-throated defence of the Tory record, and a marked change of tone for Coleman.

He was speaking to the Rotary Club of St. John’s, his first public appearance in the capital city since he entered politics two months ago, and he used the forum to lash out at Liberal Leader Dwight Ball.

Last week, Ball gave a speech accusing the government of squandering oil wealth and leaving the province “the worst, the last and the lowest,” citing a range of economic indicators.

But citing different indicators, Cole­man said the province is doing better than ever before, and the oil money of recent years has been used to make the province a better place.

“They would have you believe that massive investments to provide insulin pumps to children with diabetes is a waste of money,” he said.

“What about the billions invested in infrastructure, and the hundreds of millions invested in this amazing poverty reduction program?”

Coleman hasn’t been in government for any of the accomplishments he cited, but he said he believes that the PC party with him at the helm is best positioned to maintain its successes.

“I am absolutely confident that we can keep this record going. I’m not confident that our opponents can,” he said.

Coleman stepped into politics in March as one of three contenders to replace retired premier Kathy Dunderdale as leader of the PC party. After one challenger was disqualified by the party executive and the other one withdrew from the race, Coleman became leader by default.

He won’t formally become premier until after July 5, when the PC party will hold a convention to formally endorse his leadership.

When it comes to the specifics about what he wants to do as premier, Coleman said a lot of those details won’t come until after July 5.

For example, he has identified the public-sector pension plan shortfall as the top issue facing the provincial government, but he said he doesn’t have a specific plan for how to fix it yet.

“I don’t know where they are in negotiations, but I’ve said that it will be my first item,” Coleman said.

Similarly, when asked about skilled labour shortages — another issue he brings up as a priority — he said he’ll have to get up to speed once he’s premier.

“My platform will evolve over the next number of months,” he said. “Right now I am sitting here not yet the premier of the province. I need to get in there and I need to find out what’s happening. I need to get briefed.”

The other big area that he talked about as a priority is energy.

He said the government needs to encourage more offshore oil development, along with mining and other natural resource developments, as a way to “energize this economy.”

Along the same vein, he firmly stood behind the Muskrat Falls project, saying it’s a necessary project for the province’s future.

“The development of Muskrat Falls will mean stable long-term electricity prices for generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” Coleman said. “It is a constraint to this economy’s growth not to have electricity available. Muskrat takes that constraint away.” Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Tory, Rotary Club

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Recent comments

  • How can anyone become Premier without a vote being cast in his favour?
    May 23, 2014 - 15:11

    I am still trying to figure out how Mr. Coleman could have been selected to become Premier, by and ex-Premier who himself lost all of his credibility over the Muskrat Falls Project, without a vote being cast in his favour.

  • BlackInk
    May 23, 2014 - 11:20

    The general gist of his speech appears to be "I don't have a plan". To me this means "I have no vision of where we need to take the province". At least Bill Barry had enthusiasm to tackle the big issues and could articulate a vision. It is really too bad the PCs wanted a one-horse race.

  • Cyril Rogers
    May 23, 2014 - 10:46

    Mr. Coleman's remarks show just how out of touch he is with the lives of ordinary people and most of the province…….. when it comes to economic stability and growth. Except for the Avalon, Mr. Coleman…….it ain't happening!! Your attempt to gloss over everyday realities is but one more reason why you, and your party, have lost their grip on the hearts and souls of the people of the province. In my opinion, the province is facing a conundrum….the PC's are bereft of ideas and policies that will do a whole lot for ordinary wage earners, despite his assertions to the contrary…..while the Liberals are an unproven commodity. That the PC's have failed to address the complex issues facing the province by "throwing" money around to get re-elected, is obvious…... Will the Liberals do the same? I would hope not, but certainly don't have a whole lot of confidence in them either. I would hope the Liberals would begin with developing a heritage fund rather than simply spending to the max…as the PC's were wont to do. Their "investments" are in money pits like Muskrat Falls, where "stable" prices" equate to astronomical heating bills.

    • Maggy Carter
      May 23, 2014 - 12:44

      Well said. I agree that politically the Tories are toast - justifiably so. That said, the coming year could prove painful. A lot more damage can and likely will be done before Coleman's brief sojourn on the eight floor comes to an end. I share your concerns that the Liberals might prove no better. Having chosen (rather incredibly) to stick with their ineffectual leader, the spendthrift NDP can and does offer nothing by way of alternative. So, by default, we are down to the Liberals. I have some respect for Dwight Ball. Granted he's no ball of fire (pun unavoidable), but I think what we actually need is a non-flambouyant, open, honest, sober, serious thinker who's actually listens to people whether or not they have a pocketful of money. That could be Ball. Yes it does worry me that his shiny new minister of finance in waiting is a right-wing Tory in black sheep's clothing. I think she's a 'let-them-eat-cake' kind of lady. Given half a chance, she will stamp out any move the Liberals might have made to reach out to the ordinary people of whom you speak. But we have to elect someone. It won't be entirely without apprehension but I am determined to give Ball a chance.

  • James
    May 23, 2014 - 10:39

    Sell your home. Build a shanty on some piece of land with a wood stove. Hunt, grow your own vegetables and buy a solar panel. By the time this jig is up you won't have a pot to pee in.

  • Mark
    May 23, 2014 - 10:38

    "stable long-term electricity prices"....what a joke....

  • Sam
    May 23, 2014 - 08:02

    Someone please take this guy aside and explain to him that more the same just doesn't cut it. If the PC party has done such a fantastic job in managing the affairs of this province, Kathy Dundersale would still be premier. Given all the failures by Nalco to manage and secure reliable power for the "current needs" of the province, nothing has been done to hold management accountable. How can anyone think that they are capable of spending billions of dollars to secure our future needs. Frank Coleman should take Bob Wakeham's advise and stick to selling carrots and paving roads.

  • Ed
    May 23, 2014 - 06:59

    Mr. Coleman is much to dull a person to reinvigorate his damaged political party. Mr. Coleman and his son's business practices ($19 million bond) might be legal but not acceptable to the average citizen and voter who have to pay penalties.Danny backed a loser this time.

  • Ken Collis
    May 23, 2014 - 06:43

    So nothing changes in government until 2015???

  • Dianne
    May 23, 2014 - 05:33

    This man is becoming more laughable by the minute, Sir you don't need to get in there to find out what going on, Just look around, Starvation, freezing in their home, our people losing jobs to foreign workers, people tax to death, health care on the rocks, Please kind Sir, What would your plan be, and your saying that you wanted to follow in the foot steps of the PC's,