‘I won’t be easy-goesy at it’

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Businessman Bill Barry contemplates run at Tory leadership

In the last 25 years, Bill Barry was approached several times by both the Liberal and the Progressive Conservative parties to run for office under their respective banners.

Bill Barry (right) was one of the panel speakers at the launch of Grenfell’s recently renewed humanities program at the fine arts building. The discussion was on the nature and value of humanities. — File photo by Geraldine Brophy/The Western Star

The time was never right for the Corner Brook businessman, who expanded his family’s fishing business into an international entity that employs more than 3,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Confident his own children are now ready to take up the running of their family’s huge fishing enterprise, this just might be the right time for Barry to throw his hat into the political ring.

With the resignation of Kathy Dunderdale and the reality newly appointed Premier Tom Marshall will only be in that role until a new PC party leader is chosen, Barry said he is seriously considering a run for the Tory leadership.

“The only reason I would consider it is completely on the basis that I think I might be able to contribute something to a province that has given so much to me,” Barry told The Western Star in an interview Friday morning.

Barry said he will be taking this weekend to think about it and will let his intentions be known early next week. He said he has always considered public life, but never followed through because the timing was never right before.

His priorities had always been  his large family and his business.

“These things are not things that you just step away from, not knowing how secure and how safe they are,” he said.

With four of his sons and a daughter heavily involved in the family’s fishing business, Barry is finding fewer reasons to say he can’t leave the fishery for a life in politics.

“I don’t have those inhibitions on me now,” said the 61-year-old. “Five years ago, I couldn’t give it that consideration.”

In the past few days, Barry said, he has received numerous emails and calls from across the province, encouraging him to run. The prospect of becoming the Tory leader and, subsequently, the province’s 12th premier until the next election is called is not something he takes lightly.

“It’s obviously an extremely serious commitment for me,” said Barry. “What it really means to me is the rest of my best years, if I was fortunate enough to ever get the job, would be committed to the province.”

While he said it is both flattering and humbling to hear so many people urging him to take up the life of a politician, Barry said the choice comes down to a personal decision because he won’t have a go at politics apologetically.

“If I do it, I will do it with a stick in each hand,” he said with a laugh. “I won’t be easy-goesy at it.”

If he decides to run, Barry said, he will do so with every intention of making “a real contribution for real change” in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“It’s a compelling journey for me at the age of 61,” he said of the idea of aspiring to become the province’s leader.

The Western Star

Organizations: Tory

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Western Star, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Angus
    January 26, 2014 - 06:58

    Isn't this one of the people who were architects of NewFound resources the dummy company set up to harvest "unused" fish quotas in the 1980's to 1990's using cheap foreign labour onboard mostly Russian trawlers to catch Turbot and Redfish and land it to create jobs in NL plants? The end result of this scheme was very low turbot prices paid to local fishermen and a closed market since the locals didn't have any where else to sell the catch. The plan was sanctioned by local politicians since it created or extended plant jobs long enough to top up EI but it had the effect of depressing Turbot prices to a point where it wasn't feasible for locals to process it. Meanwhile the fish where sold on the world markets with world class prices. It was a real boom for the proccesors.