True Grit?

Pam Frampton
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“The authentic Cathy Bennett … has always been and will always be a Liberal.”

— Cathy Bennett, July 3


Cathy Bennett says she is a Liberal, despite her generous donations to the provincial Progressive Conservatives over the past nine years.

I don’t know if she’s a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal or not. What I do know is this: Cathy Bennett is a bit of an enigma.

She is also a politician, albeit a rookie.

You can tell she’s a politician by the way she refers to herself in the third person, which I have come to believe is a prerequisite for that line of work.

It’s always great to see intelligent, articulate people offer themselves up for elected office, particularly when they have no reason to be covetous of taxpayers’ money.

It’s also a refreshing change to see someone who was on the receiving end of a patronage appointment (to Nalcor’s board of directors) not acting as an automatonic shill for the party who put her there.

I realize others might call that biting the hand that feeds you.

Apart from the fact she’s the only woman in the race — joining Jim Bennett, Danny Dumaresque, Dwight Ball and Paul Antle — there are two things of particular note about Cathy Bennett’s bid for the Liberal leadership.

One is the ferocity of the rancour with which her announcement was met.

And this is especially noteworthy given that she’s far from the first person in this province to have seemingly switched political allegiances.

Still, media websites were bombarded with reader comments as soon as the news broke that she was running, and theories about her motivation abound.

Someone calling himself “Phile” had this to say on The Telegram website: “Delusional. ... After supporting the Cons and sitting on Nalcor, and having no political experience whatsoever, she thinks she can successfully run for the Liberals. Why would any Liberals want her? For that matter, why would the public support her? Rich opportunist looking for a power grab and switching allegiance when it suits her. Not a sign of integrity.”

Someone using the handle “Former Conservative” wrote: “Another board of trade flunky trying to make the rich even richer and keep the rest of us in the poorhouse. A big mistake by the Liberals if they choose (Cathy) Bennett as leader.”

And “Jimmy” wrote: “If anybody cannot see that she is trying to protect the power handle that her Tory friends have, as they know the PCs are spiralling, then they are not looking. This is insulting to not only Liberals but to everyone in Newfoundland. They think we are just that stupid. I hope Bennett and her buddies from the PC party are booted.”

Cathy Bennett insists her values match those of the Grits, and she’s said the “full story” about who she really is hasn’t yet been told.

But here’s what we know so far.

The planks in her platform are agenda items that many card-carrying Conservatives would support: increased immigration, Muskrat Falls, full-day kindergarten, strategic planning.

Her intention, she stated repeatedly in a media scrum, “is to be an elected official in the House of Assembly.” (She didn’t actually specify which side of the House).

When pressed on why she donated so much more — $6,400 vs. $500 — to the provincial Tories, who she now opposes, compared to the provincial Liberals she now embraces, she gave a non-answer (also the sure sign of a true politician), saying, “I think that it’s important for business leaders to support democracy,” and, “I’ve supported all parties,” and, “When I’ve been asked, I’ve contributed.”

So, does she support democracy generally, or a particular brand of it?

Is her past support of all parties a sign of egalitarianism or a reflection of her lack of conviction?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Bennett insists her motivation is a passion for the public service.

“I think you have to be brave,” she told reporters. “And I think there’s not enough people to be brave, so I’m going to be brave.”

Perhaps. But if Bennett is really brave, she will gather her courage and let voters know up front how she feels about certain Progressive Conservative hobbyhorses.

Would she reverse any of the budget cuts? Repeal Bill 29? Provide more information about Muskrat Falls expenditures to date?

That’s the story I want to see unfold.


Pam Frampton is a columnist and

The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email

Twitter: pam_frampton



Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Eli
    July 07, 2013 - 15:26

    No polititian is covetous of the peoples money until the get their hands on d'spiles. Only then do we see their true colours. We're stuck with the revelation for four years minimum.

  • gord
    July 06, 2013 - 23:09

    I'm not from the Avalon but I had her pegged right from her announcement. We too can read people and their false intentions. Has she duped you easterners?

  • Maggy Carter
    July 06, 2013 - 22:45

    Ms. Frampton has it right. Liberals need be wary of Greeks bearing gifts. The Greek in this case is Cathy Bennett. Long a big 'C' Conservative, Ms. Bennett has concluded - like many of us - that the Conservative brand in this province (and nationally) has been irreparably damaged. What's a Conservative with a yen for power to do? The solution, of course, is to masquerade as a Liberal. To that end, Ms. Bennett has rolled out her own version of a Trojan Horse. 'Adopt me as your leader. I'm a Liberal through and through - even if absolutely everything about me screams otherwise.' Will Liberals accept Ms. Bennett's gift of ..... well, Ms. Bennett. Lorraine Michaels must be keeping her fingers crossed in hopes they do.

  • Cyril Rogers
    July 06, 2013 - 17:57

    Cathy Bennett is simply carrying on the failed policies of Danny Williams and the bumbling crew that now govern the province. Any objective person would disassociate themselves from most of the policies.....I use that word very cautiously....of this group. Their sole policy objective was to retain power by free-spending tactics that were designed to bolster their the expense of the province's fiscal future. She is a PC in sheep's clothing although, to be fair. so are many former Liberals, in recent years. When you lose sight of principle and lust for power it doesn't matter who the leader is....hopefully, the Liberals will develop some principles and policy objectives that will enable us to differentiate between them and the PC's prior to the next general election. I don't expect much of that from former PC supporters like Ms. Bennett.

  • Pierre Neary
    July 06, 2013 - 15:03

    Good column. I'm interested in hearing the answers to those questions as well. Mr.Ball is looking better and better.

  • Alec C
    July 06, 2013 - 10:54

    'I think that it’s important for business leaders to support democracy' donates $6400 to the least democratic party since confederation - speaking out of both sides of her mouth def a politician in the making. Ask CB how MF affects disposable income considering her 'extensive' business background. Customers will have $1200 (MIN) power bill increases to pay for the same amount of power they currently use. Whatever party affiliation one is perceived to have isn't as important as their virtues. CB is pro SJBOT Employers Council brigadier - hardly offering anything new over the NLPCs since 2003. Opportunist - NLPCs have been sliding since 2010 and past 2 polls had

    • Too Funny
      July 07, 2013 - 09:49

      "donates $6400 to the least democratic party since confederation" . Wow, she doesn't look old enough to have made donations to Smallwood's Liberals.

  • Duggan
    July 06, 2013 - 09:05

    An excellent column. Cathy Bennett is not targeting Liberal support, her campaign is about attracting disgruntled Conservatives. Real Liberals can see right through her.

  • crista
    July 06, 2013 - 08:17

    That's the story that has got to be told and not only just that???? and how to you call this democracy????if that is what you got to wait on for the story to unfold????you are still waiting on the churchill falls deal to unfold???? and how many more stories that are waiting to be unfolded and not only just stories,how much is gone on and how much is going on???? The rights to know, who are the elites are they surpose to be the intelligent ones reading your article interesting article????

  • Filly
    July 06, 2013 - 07:17

    Sooo...when she was supporting the cons she was actual a Liberal in disguise? When she sat on Nalcor and supported Muskrat Falls she was just biding her time until she could return to the party she loves??