Natural Resources minister counts himself out of leadership race
First on the schedule at the Noia oil and gas conference this morning, premier Tom Marshall included an acknowledgement of recent political upheaval, with the decision by premier-designate Frank Coleman to leave political life.
“I was fully expecting a few days from now, I’d be stepping aside to make way for my successor. But like the weather and so much else in Newfoundland and Labrador, our politics is quite unpredictable," he said to the gathering at the St. John's Convention Centre, laying out the situation.
“So it appears my that my tenure will be extended for a little while, to ensure that the important work of government will continue uninterrupted and the transition to what comes next is seamless.”
His speech was not consumed by the politics of the day, but rather references to provincial support for the offshore oil sector.
The premier highlighted spending by Crown corporation Nalcor Energy on new offshore seismic work, recently approved changes to the offshore land tenure system and investments by the province into new research and development, particularly with focus on work in harsh environments and Arctic climate.
Yet the politics of the day returned, as Marshall took questions from reporters after his speech.
He said he had yet to be briefed on a meeting of the PC Party executive that took place Monday evening, but welcomed anyone expressing an interest in the emerging race to determine a new leader.
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He was asked specifically about having former Health minister John Ottenheimer declare his intent to run and current Minister of Municipal Affairs Steve Kent express interest.
"Well that's great. I mean, I worked with John. John and I were in Cabinet together. He's a very decent and honourable man. I think he'd make a terrific leader," he said.
"And Steve Kent is one of the best Cabinet ministers I have. He's full of energy. I give him a job to do, he does it. He does it extremely well."
Minister of Natural Resources Derrick Dalley was on hand for Marshall's speech. Asked if he would join the leadership race, he said he would not.
Dalley is due to address delegates at the oil and gas conference Thursday.
NOTE: This story was updated at 1:30 p.m. to provide edited, full quote from Premier Tom Marshall.