Hole left following Frank Coleman’s withdrawal from politics
Organizers of the 2014 Expo Labrador Conference and Trade Exhibition are scrambling to find another high-profile keynote speaker after Frank Coleman suddenly announced he was leaving politics on June 17.
Organizers don’t have much time, however. This year’s Expo begins Sunday, June 22, and Coleman was scheduled to speak at a two-hour luncheon on Tuesday, June 24.
Coleman was supposed to replace Tom Marshall as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in July, following his uncontested bid for the PC leadership earlier this year. Those involved in Expo Labrador, an annual event that showcases the Big Land’s economic and industrial opportunities, were looking forward to hearing Coleman’s views on Labrador development.
“That’s what we wanted Coleman for, is to give us an indication as to the way he might be going to take the government in, as it pertains to how we see development here,” said Expo Labrador chairperson Ernie McLean.
“We always focus on the fact that this is a Labrador conference, we really want (our speakers) to focus on the whole carriage of Labrador, in terms of industrial development and where we’re going to go from here.”
Coleman was scheduled to be one of several high-profile keynote speakers at this year’s Expo. Others who will be speaking include: Official Opposition Leader Dwight Ball, Nalcor President and CEO Ed Martin, and Astaldi Canada’s George Kean — manager of labour relations, Muskrat Falls.
For McLean and others involved with Expo Labrador, the most logical replacement for Coleman, as a speaker, is current Premier Tom Marshall.
“With the unfortunate resignation of Mr. Coleman, it sets us back a little bit. But we have a ‘Plan B’ that we’re focusing on,” said McLean.
“In the next few days we’ll have this resolved, I think, and we’ll still have a fairly high-profile speaker. Of course, you always like to get your premier and, if he’s willing to come, that could be a solution.
“Of course, we’d certainly love to have the current premier, Mr. Tom Marshall. We think he’d do a fabulous job if he came in. But if he’s unable to come, we’ll go back and see where we can go from there in terms of a high-profile speaker.”
According to McLean, the Expo hasn’t had a premier participate since Roger Grimes. As of press time, there was still no word on whether or not Marshall would replace Coleman as a keynote speaker.