PCs plan their approach

James McLeod
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Tories wrestle with leadership, future strategy in the wake of the election

It’s been just six weeks since the Progressive Conservative party was soundly defeated in the provincial election, but privately within the party, there’s already lots of talk about how to rebuild, and where things go from here.

But speaking on the condition of anonymity, insiders offer a much more stark assessment.

Multiple sources laid the blame firmly at the feet of Kathy Dunderdale, who served as premier from late 2010 to January 2014, and presided over controversial episodes such as Bill 29 and substantial 2013 public service layoffs.

Another Tory also singled out Dunderdale, calling her years as premier a “nightmare” for the party.

Publicly, the prevailing line from Tories is that politics is “cyclical” and after 12 years in power, the Progressive Conservatives’ time was simply up.

And even in private conversations, that sentiment is still there, but it comes with a bleak reality for the Progressive Conservatives.

Because if politics is truly cyclical, that cycle seems to go in 10-15 year cycles, so the Tories could be sitting in the lonely opposition benches for quite a while.

“This is usually an eight-year process before you can become competitive again,” a Tory strategist said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity.

A Tory MHA said much the same thing.

“The majority of people, I think, are of that school of thought that this is an eight-year scenario,” the MHA said.

At the same time, the MHA said a lot of Tories see Premier Dwight Ball as fairly weak, and he’ll be up against an ugly financial situation, wrestling to get a $1.9-billion deficit under control.

“The numbers suck, so they’re going to have a very difficult time governing over the next four years,” the MHA said. “The economic circumstances and Dwight’s leadership won’t be enough to defeat them, but if we get our shit together, I actually believe it’s conceivable.”

A big question swirling around all of this is where PC Leader Paul Davis fits into the picture.

In a December interview with The Telegram, Davis said he plans to stay as leader at least for the time being — “Until we, the party, collectively decide there should be a change.”

At least among the folks speaking with The Telegram, there’s no sense of anger towards Davis for his leadership of the party in the past year and a half.

In fact, there’s even some talk of him holding on for four years.

“It’s kind of a split mind on that,” one party insider said. “There’s a good portion of people who also think he’s going to stick around, and think he could pull it out in 2019.”

But the party strategist, despite speaking highly of Davis’s leadership during the campaign, said that to really renew the party, he probably has to step aside eventually.

“The reality of it is that you need a new crew, new ideas, new image altogether,” he said. “Roger Grimes wasn’t doing that bad a job when he was premier, and we beat him. It got to a point where Roger, if he was giving a Newfoundlander a cheque every morning, they weren’t going to vote for him because the brand was old.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Progressive Conservatives.Because

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Anthony Rockel
    January 14, 2016 - 09:38

    Planning their approach? How hilarious! The PC bus needs 3 reverse gears, and 1 forward-- in case they're attacked from the rear.

  • coaster
    January 10, 2016 - 16:25

    Listen Steve, I mean John Smith, we still have the highest rate of poverty in the country but because of manipulating numbers, on paper it looked like Danny and the boys were making a difference, bragging to the rest of Canada, ask any less fortunate or low income person how much better their lives have become since 2003 in the wake of the poverty reduction strategy? The answer may surprise you

  • Anna
    January 10, 2016 - 15:06

    It wasn't just Dunderdale who did the PCs in, think of Tom Marshall and his refusal to accept that the economy was bottoming out and in his haste before he left, named a Justice Building in Corner Brook after Williams. Paul Davis was no better as he had total amnesia when it came to how much harm this government was doing to the Province and on top of that all the favors he did for people ie John Ottenheimer. The part that sickens me is all those MHAs who left before the last election and now will have their pensions for life while the rest of us try to survive in the Province. I seriously think it will be more than eight years before the electorate will forgive this government for not saving any of the billions that were gained through the oil industry and leaving us as desolate as they have. Also, if I were a PC party member, I would demand that John Smith stop trying to pick up for you guys as he is definitely making things worse.

  • Janes
    January 10, 2016 - 11:54

    Hi I am a big proponent of democracy and freedom of speech and the press. However, I think the Telegram's James McLeod, has to be one of the cheapest writer's the Telegram has ever employed. He says his sources of information are from party insiders. Why not name them? He is degrading to the freedom of speech. How do we know his information is accurate or from others? My bet is that he writes based on bar room talk, not from insiders. James McLeod, is now anout to release a book. I can just imagine what trash he will have in his book. I heard him say that he was going to have quotes from Open Line Marjarie in his first chapter. What exploitation? This likesble lady hasn't got IQ of a pea. Shame on James McLeod and more so shame on the Telegram.

  • I smell a rat
    January 09, 2016 - 18:41

    "John Smith" hahaha ...everyone say hi to Steve Kent . Nobody else can suck up like this !

  • Bill Coaker
    January 09, 2016 - 16:28

    I'm glad John Smith can still laugh at public expense. I welcome his comments. Readers are quick to see through party hacks who hide behind an alias to say in public what they dare not utter in their own names. The more Smith attempts to rewrite history - to argue up is down, black is white, bad is good - the longer the wounds inflicted on this province by his Tory pals will remain open and raw. And that's a good thing. As Ball and the Liberals struggle with the horrendous fallout from a decade of Tory decadence, the blatant hypocrisy of shills like Smith will remind voters every day why it is they turfed these insufferably smug cretins to the curb.

  • dan
    January 09, 2016 - 15:34

    The fact of the matter is that people like Dunderale and Davis are just not capable leaders. A nurse and a cop don't make you good political leaders. As for Kent.....my goodness Mount Pearl, are you serious?

  • Douglas Giles
    January 09, 2016 - 13:11

    It wasn't just Kathy Dunderdale who caused the demise of the PC party. Paul Davis is also responsible. The way he dealt with Valerie Penton while he was the minister responsible sealed his fate. I'm sure he don't even think that was a factor, but I changed my vote because of it. I'm sure there are lots of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who read those articles in the Telegram. What ever the reason; good riddance. In terms of what Dwight Ball can do with the deficit, there is absolutely nothing anyone can do until the oil prices recover. When the oil came everything else was forgotten.

    • Spaz
      January 09, 2016 - 16:29

      That's what you think did him in? Oooookay.

  • Randy
    January 09, 2016 - 12:45

    Arrogance is the PCs biggest problem. Getting rid of it means getting rid of Steve Kent and Paul Davis. Get rid of those two and start from there

  • Ugly Financial Situation must be combatted with honesty and astuteness.
    January 09, 2016 - 12:43

    A quote from this article states "At the same time, the MHA said a lot of Tories see Premier Dwight Ball as fairly weak, and he’ll be up against an ugly financial situation, wrestling to get a $1.9-billion deficit under control." I WILL COUNTERACT THAT STATEMENT BY SAYING it was the Tories who created this weak and ugly situation through the cover up of all their ugly deeds by ramming through the worse bit of legislation ever enacted in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador known as "Bill 29" to cover up the terrible contracts that THEY concocted. The same Contracts that are most likely going to sink our province into debt forever unless we can HAVE RETURNED the only resource that has the ability to do anything substantial for our economy, the renewable and world-wide coveted Fish Resource that we have been blessed with in our jurisdictional waters, that the whole World wishes it could have control over. The World is craving "fish protein" and the fish species which are under our jurisdiction should be administered through every process state by our province for the economic benefit and providing jobs for Newfoundland and Labrador's population base. I believe if Premier Dwight Ball takes a look at the corruption foisted upon us, the electorate, over the past 68 years, especially the last 20 years and he decides he is going to take an honest approach to governance and STOP the giveaway of our natural resources in the raw state, especially our coveted Fish Resource, we might be able to keep our financial heads above water somewhere FAR into the future. To do this Premier Ball will need to provide honest and astute governance.

    • james
      January 09, 2016 - 14:25

      most of the time you talk about were FIBERAL times

  • Robert Scott
    January 09, 2016 - 11:13

    The blame can only be shared throughout the party. When Dunderdale took the leadership, it was on an interim basis until a leadership convention could be held. When she decided it was an OK job and she might like to stay on, none of the high profile MHA's opposed her. Kennedy, Marshall, King, etc. gave her the Premier's office.

  • John Smith
    January 09, 2016 - 10:57

    I always laugh when I see a story like this in the media....I instantly guess at how many negative comments about Mr. Williams there will be...and as usual...there are several. The usual cynical Liberal partisans keep referring to how the PCs put us in the mess we are in...and Danny is to blame for the economy, and Danny is to blame for their personal plight...when in reality Mr. Williams was perhaps the best Premier this province has ever seen...and will probably see for a long time...and if he ran tomorrow for any party, he would be elected with a landslide, and he is still the most popular premier ever to have taken office in Canada...ever....So the Liberal partisans can keep trying to taint Mr. Williams...with the usual lies, rumor and innuendo...for their own personal reasons of jealousy, or the Newfie tradition of despising someone who has done better than you in life...but I thank Mr. Williams...for 10 years of his life, dedicated to making this a better place...and don't kid yourself Liberals...this place is a lot better now than it was in 2003...when we had the highest poverty rate in the country...a debt, which in today's dollars would be about 17.5 billion, a crushing deficit, civil service pensions about to implode due to lack of funding, credit status downgraded just about as far down as it could go, crippling unemployment, the canadian dollar was at 65 cents US and oil was trading at $22 a barrel...schools were closing every second day due to mould and other issues, and infrastructure was crumbling under our feet....I could go on...but there is no point....as the rabid Liberal partisans just make up their own history....but when all is said and done it won't be Dwight Ball that will be remembered for improving this Province and making it a better place to live...it will be Danny Williams....

    • Dolf
      January 09, 2016 - 14:22

      Grimes' Liberals didn't have the oil bonanza Williams walked into. Williams will be remembered for the bloody millstones he left around our necks, Muskrat Falls and Kathy Dunderdale. Take an AlkaSeltzer and swallow that!

    • james
      January 09, 2016 - 14:30

      Williams just came along at the right time, oil was just beginning its lofty clime, joe blow could have done it

    • Wallace
      January 09, 2016 - 16:42

      negative . Ralph Klein had better polling numbers and support than Williams

    • brian
      January 09, 2016 - 19:22

      Well John, We will have That relic for a long time because we will need a backup when Muskrat Falls fails to deliver. Muskrat Falls was never to be a stand alone project it was to be part of Gull Island . Danny needed a legacy project and put an economist in charge of Muskrat Falls not an electrical engineer ,not a project manager,not even an industry expert but a bean counter . Muskrat Falls was behind schedule and over budget on the day that they started to put the road in to the site . The project has been mismanaged from day one and maybe in a HUNDRED years people will go to the site and wonder why did they build this ,what was its purpose and who was responsible for sanctioning it? Holyrood ( the relic ) would have been the lowest cost option and could have had 3 state of the art gas generators in place for less than 1 billion Dollars . As it stands now the repayment for Muskrat Falls will cost the rate payers over $10,000,000.00 ( 10 Billion )in the last 10 years alone plus what we pay in the preceding 40 years . The upper Churchill has three lines transporting the power and in the event of an emergency any two could carry the load. Muskrat Falls has one line and only, one line If that single line goes down we will need Holyrood and We will have to pay enormous penalties to Emera for non delivery of power.. All of the reports that Nalcor posted on Muskrat Falls failed to make the following statement " we are on schedule " . Right from day one Nalcor has failed to manage the project but they had help from the Tory administration. Just imagine Premier Davis commenting that "by 2025 our equity investment will be returned and Nalcor will start to create revenue for the people" He should have indicated that the revenue will "be from the people".In December of 2012 Premier Dunderdale said that Muskrat Falls " will provide the province with a stable revenue stream and not impact the net debt " how can that be? John ,I hope that you are correct and Muskrat Falls will be a great source of revenue for our children and our children's children . There is a tremendous fear that the rates will rise beyond people's capability to pay and there will not be any markets for our 100 years of clean energy .Time will tell .

    • Randy
      January 10, 2016 - 08:08

      One school closed because of mold and the Liberals didn't put the mold in there. Take all the exaggerations and outright lies out of what "John Smith" posts and all you have left is the fake name

    • Spaz
      January 11, 2016 - 13:05

      His name is Zachary.

  • Spaz
    January 09, 2016 - 10:41

    I blame Danny.

  • Brian
    January 09, 2016 - 09:04

    You can blame Dunderdale ,Davis and whomever you want but the bottom line is The Tory governments mishandled the economy collectively and they ( Danny Williams) are responsible for putting incompetent people in charge of a project that has gotten out of control ( Muskrat Falls) and will have devastating consequences for the future of the province .Mr Williams,Danny Boy,Danny is the root cause of our present financial dilemma, if Muskrat Falls wasn't in play we would be better able to weather the present financial situation but now we need to move on and make adjustments . Dunderdale was a dead loss and Davis was even worse . I really don't care what the tory's think and I am tired of Davis.Kent and company. Go away Paul, Steve , Keith . Let the Liberals try to set a course and keep us off the rocks .

    • John Smith
      January 09, 2016 - 11:13

      ...so Brian...what would be your answer to the fact that we have a 50 year old, oil fired, relic from the 1970s that they don't even make parts for anymore powering the Avalon Penn.? I'm sure you have some intelligent, well thought out and costed proposal, that will take into account all aspects of electrical generation, and you will be able to succinctly illustrate to us simpletons why Muskrat Falls is not the best answer. The thing about Muskrat Falls that you, and many of your ilk won't, or perhaps can't understand, is that it is not a short term solution to the problem...it is a long term solution to the problem....and that is the problem....because this is a time of instant gratification...let's spend 2 billion on Holyrood, or let's spend 2 billion on some small hydro around the island...or let's spend 2 billion on mice running in wheels in cages....and then after 10-15 years... we are back in the same spot we are now. The people who were charge at the time had to make a decision, a difficult decision, one that took a lot of factors into consideration, and one that looks 100 plus years down the road...something that some of us can't, or won't understand...and Brian...unfortunately you are one of those people. I congratulate Nalcor, and all the good NL people working to build us a state of the art power supply that will meet all our needs into the next century...non-polluting, not dependent upon foreign oil, or any other non-renewable energy source...that will provide us with a connection to the national power grid, allowing us to pursue and sell power developed from wind and other alternatives. Some will never understand how important Muskrat Falls is to this province...and that is sad...because we should all be 100% behind this great project, and proud of those who conceived and built it....I know I am....

  • Ladycove
    January 09, 2016 - 08:04

    Some very good points, but lets not forget that Darin King wanted the top job when Kathy Dunderdale had it. At the time King was the most despised politician and was seen as a back stabber who would do anything to get the top job. He single handedly contaminated the PC party from the inside and then his attitude also got out to the people of the province. Dunderdale did not have a chance when King started to screw around with things for his own benefit. If there ever was a politician that will be labelled as being the person responsible for the PC party's demise it will be King. King alone started and finished the demonization of the PCs.

  • Sam
    January 09, 2016 - 07:13

    If we weren't in the financial mess the conservatives created going back to Danny boy, they wouldn't be in the mess they're in. It will take a long time to forgive and forget the harm they've done to this province. Good riddance and goodbye to the lot of them. Davis hid the financial numbers from the electorate to save his skin.

  • Jim
    January 09, 2016 - 06:53

    It's not just Dunderdale, dear PCs. All the same members stood by and had no voice while Williams did as he pleased. None of them had a voice when Dunderdale was there either. They were supposed to speak up for the people! I wish politicians would take the blame for their own faults! As for Davis? Hit the road, bye, by the time a PC landslide builds up again, some "good" PC or a real leader will step up and the PC party will flick Davis aside so quick his head will spin! They ruined our economy for years and years to come, now the Liberals came to power and are only now realizing how bad the situation is. The PCs did this to themselves, they allowed Davis to even be in the running for leader! LEADER! He can't even spell it!

  • Kev
    January 08, 2016 - 19:46

    If these frank and honest Tories aren't willing to lay any blame at the clay feet of their idol Danny Williams then they aren't being very frank or honest.