UPDATE: Terry French calls it quits

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Justice Minister Terry French wants people to know that his resignation isn’t a matter of political opportunism

Terry French - Telegram file photo

When The Telegram spoke to him this morning, shortly after he announced that he’ll be leaving politics, French said he’s been through the good and the bad with the PC Party, all the way back to 1989.

“For people that think that I’m jumping the sinking ship, well, I was on the ship when it was a raft,” he said. “There were days over the 10 or 12 years (during the Clyde Wells and Brian Tobin governments) where we could’ve had our conventions in a telephone booth.”

But French’s resignation comes amid a mass exodus of the PC Party front bench. Ministers Jerome Kennedy and Joan Shea resigned in the past year. Premier Kathy Dunderdale resigned in January. Finance Minister Charlene Johnson is expected to resign this afternoon, and interim Premier Tom Marshall is expected to resign within two weeks.

All of those politicians were long-serving senior ministers in the government, and served under former premier Danny Williams. But now, French said, it’s time for renewal and the next leader of the party will need to manage that turnover.

“The biggest thing that the new leader will have to face, I think, will be the ability to attract new, talented people from all walks of life,” he said. “That’s the strength that we’ve had in the last number of elections.”

French said he’s got a new job lined up, but he wouldn’t say what exactly that job is. He said his formal resignation will take effect after the PC Party leadership convention to pick Marshall’s successor, which will take place on the weekend of Sept. 13.

The current batch of resignations comes against the backdrop of steadily sinking poll numbers for the PC Party.

According to data released by Halifax-based Corporate Research Associates this week, the PC Party only has 26 per cent support among decided voters. By comparison, the Liberals currently enjoy 58 per cent support.

French said his decision to leave didn’t have anything to do with that, though. He said after 12 years in elected politics, he was just starting to burn out.

“After awhile, you’ve been in this business for 12 years, your skin tends to get thin again, and I found myself getting like that over the past several months, and that’s not a good place to be when you’re in this business.”

French said it’s been a privilege to serve the people of Conception Bay South over the past 12 years.

The current batch of expected resignations sets up three byelections this fall, in the districts of Conception Bay South, Humber East, and Trinity-Bay de Verde.

•••

(Earlier story)

Justice Minister Terry is resigning from cabinet, and Finance Minister Charlene Johnson is expected to announce her resignation this afternoon.

The latest two resignations come after a parade of senior Progressive Conservatives have quit politics in the past year — former ministers Jerome Kennedy, Joan Shea and former premier Kathy Dunderdale.

Interim Premier Tom Marshall is expected to announce his resignation in less than two weeks after the PC Party holds its leadership convention to pick a new permanent leader.

All of this comes against the backdrop of a recent poll that put the governing Tories at 26 per cent public support, compared to the Liberals at 58 per cent support among decided voters.

In his statement to media, French said that he's ready to go after 12 years in public life.

"It has been a wonderful career. These have been exciting times, as we have seen an unprecedented growth in the provincial economy, and an unprecedented increase in pride in ourselves as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," French said. "I look forward now to new challenges, and new opportunities, as I enter this next phase of my life.”

 

 

Organizations: Progressive Conservatives, PC Party

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Recent comments

  • Judy
    September 05, 2014 - 16:25

    Definitely agree with Eli and that pension reform is the catalyst here. 12 years and a full pension! Certainly trumps my working 35 for a full pension! How great that would be. I have to wait 3 more years before I can jump from my ship! We need to reform pensions all right. Lets begin with the MHA's!! Come on unions!

  • Shawn
    September 05, 2014 - 07:48

    All these ministers jumping ship just goes to show how to Conservative party operates. When things go sideways, of their own doing, they abandon ship rather than owning the problems and working through or around them. Everyone needs to keep in mind when the next and future elections arrive, that the PC party, not only has created a historically huge mess, but are now abandoning their posts.

    • Too Funny
      September 05, 2014 - 08:29

      You may be too young to remember but this is exactly what happened in the dying days of the previous liberal government. Don't fall for their political manipulations. They're all alike. In the dying days of the next government you will see the same thing happen again and then again. Nothing changes in NL politics.

  • geoff
    September 05, 2014 - 07:11

    do these politicians receive severance packages for quitting their jobs ?

  • Eli
    September 04, 2014 - 19:40

    I smell a rat, and it's name is MHA Pension Reform. All these ship-jumpers including Shea who had to know what was coming down the pike, are abandoning ship before the upcoming changes. As for French, he'll look for his old job pumping gas and find out he no longer owns the station. Whatever he does now he'll have to do it without his late daddy's reputation;. That's what got him where he is today.

  • Mad
    September 04, 2014 - 17:59

    They are all like rats jumping off of a sinking ship.

  • Thin Skin
    September 04, 2014 - 15:25

    It's like rats leaving a sinking ship. I guess when times get tough....Ministers just take off, leave the people who voted them in, and still keep their pensions. Way to go! Losers.

  • Henry
    September 04, 2014 - 14:48

    The Progressive Conservatives are getting what they truly deserves.. Jump off the Goode ship lollipop or be defeated...

  • Acting Critic
    September 04, 2014 - 11:36

    Born on a raft, very good, now kindly shut the door on the way out please and spare us the phase modulation about Your Future. Like Johnson, a sandbagger of environment issues, basically invented, uninterested (or just stupid?) placeholder ministers. Acting Premier, was the phrase that drew the ire of Marshall, in a recent CBC interview with Jonathan Crowe. Acting is not such a loaded term is it? Are they all thespians with a set run? Crowe is aware of his role at least, but Marshall is not, apparently? Even Danny did this old vaudeville 'pulled off stage by a cane' routine. Acting also, in addition to the perceived slight of highlighting Tom's unelected-status, has other meanings that the PC crowd, and their official lazy/stupid/sly?gLib opposition have not been living up to. No, there is no money in these minister jobs for the level of service required. Priests have it easier, for the money. Hence, we get actors. A good/famous/almost washed up TV actor gets as much for an episode as Dwight Ball makes per year. My point is that we have the wage too low, and it's the difference in Walmart gov , and costco gov style. Blueberry turnover is to be expected. Liberals will give themselves raises when they get in hopefully, and empower themselves. I mean, they are suit dummies to the core and I haven't even spoke of the super edumecated, super stunned, King, who will be the next one pulled of the raft with the giant candy cane of our democratic surreal passion play of ineptitude.

    • Jack Smith
      September 04, 2014 - 13:28

      What utter nonsense.

    • Marion
      September 05, 2014 - 09:54

      I need some translation for this parable, Acting Critic, it leaves too much to interpretation.

  • Truth and Integrity
    September 04, 2014 - 10:12

    Terry French is co-chair of Paul Davis' leadership campaign. You would think that a person would not take on that role unless they felt the future was bright. This can't possibly help Davis, not that it matters.

  • Voter of common sense
    September 04, 2014 - 09:52

    Terry French, Johnson, Kennedy and a few others have had to fight against its own for a long time now to try to progress and do what is right for the people of this province. Having a person like Darin King playing center ice hurt the team and left everyone else looking like a gardener with a rake and shovel trying to cover up the mistakes he made in Justice, education, fisheries and so on. This is really hard to deal with by the people who are supposed to be on the same team. I think politicians know that the job is tough and they go in normal and come out burned out and feeling betrayed,,, not by the voters of this province but by people like King who have to have a team behind him to clean the mess. Tom Marshall was the man who could have fixed all of this and we really thought he would have. But he did not when he had the chance and now look at the snow ball effect. Had he removed King from cabinet, who the people see and other PCs see as a ticking time bomb, we would not have had this explosion. That is really hat this is, an explosion. King looked down upon us, the people and good cabinet ministers and MHAs who represent us and he thought this would be all ok. We supported the PC party and what they stood for and people like King worked against all of us. We had the people in place who were good and knew what we stood for in this province. King hauled the rest down and Marshall fell for it and now the last few nails will be driven in the coffin of what was a great political party.

    • Dolfq
      September 04, 2014 - 19:22

      You're out to lunch my son or on another planet altogether. Danny, followed by Dumberdale, ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHER PC MHA's, not just King, destroyed the government with the damned Bill 29 and Muskrat Falls. I agree with you King is every bit as arrogant as Dumberdale, but get over him, he has plenty of company.

  • Marshall Art
    September 04, 2014 - 09:51

    John Crosbie was right. He said that when politicians give a reason for leaving politics, it's usually not the real reason. Len Simms, the poster boy for political patronage appointments, said it was 'time to move on'. Kennedy, Shea and French also 'moved on'. Next in line to 'move on' will be Charlene Johnson. Of course it's merely a coincidence that all these politicians are 'moving on' before the Liberals 'move in'.