PC leadership race a hotstove item

Staff ~ The Western Star
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By the premier’s own words, the provincial cabinet meetings in Corner Brook this week are just normal cabinet business.

However, it appears Tom Marshall and his ministers have a lot of things on their minds these days.

Hot-topic issues in western Newfoundland, such as the new hospital in Corner Brook and the loan for Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, are making for some interesting discussions, acknowledges Marshall, who said he could not reveal what specifically was being bantered about during the three days of meetings.

He did hint that some discussions were revolving around the budget and the upcoming legislative agenda.

There are the issues about an upcoming leadership race and a pending election in the province. The premier will not be running in the next election, but his interest will not wane.

“I think we are open about that,” Marshall said during a media scrum following the funding announcement for the Corner Brook Rotary Arts Centre.

“It’s a good feeling, and we are having good discussions. ... It’s going to be time for me to move on, and younger people to move up and take over. That’s the way of life, and the proper way.”

Innovation, Business and Rural Development and Tourism, Culture and Recreation Minister Terry French referred to himself as a political junkie who looks forward to such times.

“For me, this is the highlight of it,” he said. “You have a leadership. You have a budget. You have a cabinet. It is all good stuff. It gets the juices flowing again, and reinvigorates the party.”

As the names come foward, French said he will make a decision as to who to support.

“I will work like the dickens to get the person I want to be the leader,” he said. “It is important we keep the party together. This is a real grassroots approach to the party.”

Also, Vaughn Granter said he would take a similar approach. With Bill Barry already confirming he is seeking the position — and Frank Coleman and Clarence Cantwell announcing they are considering — there will be options from within the area he represents.

“We have had a lot of leaders of the province from the west coast,” he said. “That is always exciting, but at the end of the day, the premier of the province is for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, no matter what geographical location they are from.

“It is always exciting to have somebody from your own backyard as premier of the province. We have Premier Marshall here now, and have had premiers here before, and they were all strong people.”

Marshall said the Department of Transportation has outlined the construction process for the new hospital, referring to plans for the multi-building facility with room for growth and expansion as needed.

Construction of the long-term care facility will start construction this summer, and the hospital portion the following summer, according to the premier.

Marshall would not elaborate on the use of the

$110-million loan to Kruger for the mill in Corner Brook. However, it is expected more will be revealed today when the province will make a “significant announcement” regarding Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.

“I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re around here Thursday at two o’clock I might have more to say down at the mill,” he said.

The Western Star

Organizations: Rural Development, Department of Transportation

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

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