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Is it shadow boxing, some strange kind of theatre with larger-than-life sports-mascot-like cartoon figures, or does someone somewhere actually think that it constitutes political strategy?

Last Friday, the business community got to hear from a Liberal leadership candidate who isn’t actually a candidate yet, Dean MacDonald.

“As a citizen of this province, when a premier walks in the door on Day 1, we all want them to succeed,” MacDonald said in a speech to the St. John’s Board of Trade. “Unfortunately for the premier, it’s been an unmitigated disaster. There isn’t a file that you can show me that she’s handled well — she really hasn’t.”

Nice stump speech for someone who still claims not to be stumping.

Then, later, MacDonald responded to the departure of Tom Osborne from the Tory caucus, saying he’d like to convince Osborne to join the Liberals.

“I’d love to,” MacDonald told reporters. “I will definitely reach out. … Tom is a well-educated worker in the political system that has accomplished a lot in his lifetime. Look, who wouldn’t want him?”

Right now, MacDonald is part of a travelling  Liberal renewal committee which is expected to table a report at the party’s next convention. There’s been a suggestion that he’s unwilling to make any formal announcement about his personal plans until the committee tables its report.

But still, he’s making the rounds, saying this at an April fundraising dinner in Port de Grave: “I’m happy to be active. … There’s no leadership race. I’ve said I’m interested at some point in the future, but I’m still a very young man, and I really like what Dwight (Ball) is doing to rebuild the party. He’s to be commended.”

As letter-writer Marjorie Doyle ably pointed out in Tuesday’s Telegram, comments like the ones spelling out MacDonald’s intention to try to reel in Osborne suggest that MacDonald already views himself as having a larger role than just being an ordinary Liberal party member. And, with every speech attacking the governing Tories, it seems more and more like the MacDonald die is cast, and the only reason he hasn’t declared his candidacy is to suit the party’s strategic timing issues.

If this is the machinations of some invisible hand, some device designed to build political momentum for an inevitable leadership campaign, it’s time for the puppetry to end.

Run or don’t run. We need a lot of things in this province, especially as we lurch towards spending billions of dollars on a massively expensive hydroelectric project that MacDonald apparently supports. Questioning him on that support is, at this point, neither here nor there, because, oh right, he isn’t running for anything yet.

To repeat: there are plenty of things this province needs. More old-school political gamesmanship isn’t one of them.

Organizations: Board of Trade, Tory

Geographic location: Osborne, Port de Grave

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Recent comments

  • Cap'n Crunch
    September 21, 2012 - 07:33

    Just to clarify, I am not a card carrying member of the Liberal or any other party. With that out of the way, it would seem, judging by the number of negative comments aimed at McDonald, that some people are getting worried (possibly a local well known curmudgeonly blogger, those supporting a particular candidate other than McDonald and NDP supporters). When considering another DONEderdale term or four years of an NDP "tax & spend" government, a McDonald led liberal government would be the least worst of the three options.

  • William Daniels
    September 19, 2012 - 18:52

    I wish he would just hurry up and buy them.

  • Andrew
    September 19, 2012 - 15:24

    I'm just glad to see someone like Mr. MacDonald stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador. The Dunderdale Government has indeed been an "unmitigated disaster!"

    • Kev
      September 19, 2012 - 23:12

      What is the Dunderdale government (unmitigated disaster) doing that Danny Williams didn't do (and Dean M. supported all the way)? NL is better off without Danny and without Deanny.

    • Richard
      September 20, 2012 - 09:41

      How is he standing up for Newfoundland? Didn't that schtick get tired under the last blowhard premier?

  • Gracie Griffin
    September 19, 2012 - 13:13

    Who cares if Dean has fire in his belly about something that he feels so passionate about....his beloved province. It is obvious that the curent government has no vision, it has no course, it has no destiny, is a ship adrift at sea!. One thing can be said, the tides are turning and the political polls are changing. The hard work that former Premier Williams did for this province is now in the demolition process, just like the old plant in Englee......this governemtn is falling into the ocean.

    • Eli
      September 19, 2012 - 14:38

      If anything what MacDonald feels passionate about is his own ego Gracie. Show me a politian who's any different.

  • Virginia Waters
    September 19, 2012 - 12:51

    The liberal party back room are obviously busy today defending their new leader in waiting from any criticism. There are a half dozen comments clearly written by slalwart party supporters. But the comment from McLovin is right on. MacDonald is holding back until Muskrat is signed, sealed and delivered. Of course he supports it. Despite having taken exception to Dunderdale's handling of the Muskrat file in his board of trade speech, he never actually explained what his beef is. His strategy is to let the party offer token opposition to the deal in the House next month so that he can keep his hands clean. Later when he takes over as leader and the real stench from this deal starts to hit home, he can say he had nothing to do with it - it was all Dunderdale's fault. The corporate fat cats will be laughing all the way to the bank just about the same time the ordinary Newfoundland ratepayers and taxpayesr wake up to the fact their government has sold them down the river. For those of us old enough to remember the Upper Churchill fiasco, it will be deja vu all over again. Isn't politics a slimy business.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    September 19, 2012 - 12:31

    If the best Dean can do in the way of "vision" is to support the PC government's, economy draining, unneeded, $8.5 billion ratepayer-paid-for 8% greenhouse gas reducing Muskrat Falls Climate Change Project --- when 73% of the province's greenhouse gas emitters are the much larger "Transportation" and "Large Industry" sectors (such as the oil refinery, paper mill, mining, etc.), then Dean should consider joining the PC Party. ....... But then again, we already have a party in power that is "of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation", so Dean can add nothing to our current government's vision, while he could bolster the Liberal Party's corporate agenda.

    • Eli
      September 19, 2012 - 12:46

      His stance on Muskrat won't only ensure HIS self destruction, it will ensure the party's obliteration in NL for the next 20 years. The NDP have to love the current MacDonald scenario.

  • Rodney
    September 19, 2012 - 12:16

    The Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador is one that is open and transparent. If it takes a current leader, a sitting member or a grassroots Liberal to reach out and open the door for Independent Member from St. John's South to possiblycome and join the party, then WHO CARES? I for one commend Dean Macdonald, or Joe from Gander or Mary from St. Anthony or whomever it takes to reach out to Tom Osborne or anyone else who may be interested in becoming involved in the greatest political party in this province. Lets remember, it was the Liberal Party who formed government in 1949 to bring us into Confederation. Kudos to all those hard working Liberals. 2015 is just around the corner!

  • Nick
    September 19, 2012 - 11:23

    How Mr. MacDonald's invitation to Tom Osbourne shows that he "already views himself as having a larger role than just being an ordinary Liberal party member" is absolutely beyond me. Further, how this translates into a show of arrogance - as Mrs. Doyle wrote - seems even more far fetched. As an active Liberal, I take every chance I get to invite new people to events and activities within the Party - it's called recruitment! I would expect nothing less from anyone who wears their political passions as proudly as Mr. MacDonald. But, sure, we can just paint it as a sense of entitlement if that's what we find most exciting. Regardless, I would like to take a moment now to invite Mr. Osbourne to the Liberal Party myself. Mr. Osbourne, you're smart, engaged and experienced and I would love to work with you in the trenches! But, no, I will not confirm that I am or am not planning to run for matter how above-average a Liberal you now think I think I am.

    • Lippy the Lion
      September 19, 2012 - 11:33

      Liberal Nick; you spelled the name of your potential new leader incorrectly. It's OSBORNE. The article spells his name correctly. Good luck with your leadership bid anyway. Hardee-Har-Har, hardee-har!

  • Greg Maynard
    September 19, 2012 - 11:15

    It seems that too many Liberals forget the significant role Dean MacDonald in the Liberal party's election defeat in 2003. He chose to resign from the Board of Newfoundland Hydro over a disagreement in policy direction for the corporation by then liberal Premier Roger Grimes. But he continued to very publicly criticise the Liberal government well beyond that incident to the benefit of his friend and employer, Danny Williams. Liberals, you were ousted from power with the contributions of Dean MacDonald.

  • Dan
    September 19, 2012 - 10:49

    I think respecting the renewal process he is a part of, and the fact that the Liberal party hasn't even opened the nomination process yet, shows that Mr. MacDonald has a touch of class. And having been at the BOT lunch last week, i can tell you he has a touch of fire in his belly too! We need more people like MacDonald involved in politics - we need a Premier who respect the people around them and doesn't jump just because the media says so! Good luck Dean you have my vote, if you ever decide to run

    • Nathan
      September 19, 2012 - 11:41

      The Liberal party is showing true substance by executing the Renewal tour process and it is people like Mr. MacDonald who are garnering positive attention toward the party. Mr. MacDonald should be commended for his interest, support, and openness to make rebuilding the Liberal Party a priority. As of now, the Liberal Party has not made an official announcement on the official date of the leadership convention and no one has formally announced any intention to run, so why should Mr. MacDonald be obligated to announce? Why can't he be an engaged citizen like the rest of us? I think he should be praised for standing at the podium and shedding light on the frail Dunderdale "government" and how her management deserves a grade of 0%. Until there is proper regulations set out by the party, Mr. MacDonald should not be singled out because he is not afraid to challenge Dunderdale; his perspectives are bringing people to question her abilities and hold her to account. He is showing that he is not afraid to challenge the government, and with the way things have been going, we need someone who will rise above the petty and defensive attitude government MHAs and challenge the government's true performance. I am happy to see that he has risen to the occasion and is showing us that there is an alternative. Whether or not he decides to run, I encourage him to continue challenging Dunderdale and holding her feet to the fire. It's people like him that are building our economy, not the poor math skills of Dunderdale. Dean: my vote is yours!

    • Young Liberals President
      September 19, 2012 - 17:59

      Well said, young feller! Dean will smile on you.

    • Renewal Co-ordinator
      September 19, 2012 - 18:01

      Well said, Dan!

  • Keith
    September 19, 2012 - 10:24

    I think it is unfair to call on MacDonald to announce anything at this time. The leadership date has been set, but no formal call has been made to open nominations. Once nominations are open, the process will be made clear. It is unfair to expect someone to enter a leadership race without a clear understanding of the rules governing the race. The rules and more will become clear at November's AGM in Gander. Dean has been working hard on behalf of the Party - traveling the Province and meeting with supporters and potential supporters, in order to identify the Party's strengths and weaknesses in order to further rebuild the Party. And in his role as Co-Chair of the Tour, I believe he is in a position to reach out to Mr. Osborne and encourage him to join the Liberal Party. The Renewal Tour is about rebuilding the Party and as such, MacDonald should reach out to Osborne and other people from different political stripes. The Liberal Party is a big red tent – everyone is welcome!

    • Executive Director
      September 19, 2012 - 12:05

      Candidates have officially announced their candidacy for Liberal party leadership before the rules and process are disclosed. Michael Ignatieff previously and Deborah Coyne currently are 2 examples.

  • John Hogan
    September 19, 2012 - 10:14

    This article points out reasons why Mr. MacDonald should wait to announce a leadership bid, but I do not see any legitimate reasons why he needs to announce immediately. Is the only argument for an imminent announcement to avoid "political gamesmanship"? There is still over a year before the Leadership Convention and 3 years until the general election. The Liberals are rebuilding through the Renewal Tour; they are organizing and raising money; they are preparing for 2015 and beyond. Mr. MacDonald is a part of this process - and a very welcome part. The decision he has to make is an individual one and I am sure he will let everyone know when he has made that decision. In the meantime, he will be among the many Liberals who are working hard and helping the Party.

    • Party Treasurer
      September 19, 2012 - 10:50

      I have a problem with Mr. MacDonald being toured around the province with the rebuilding group when he may be a candidate. Do other potential leadership candidates get this kind of backing and exposure by what remains of the Liberal party organisation? Other potential leadership candidates will have to organise and fund their introduction and exposure to the party faithful while Mr. MacDonald enjoys the support of the current executive board of the party. Old Boys Club mentality is alive and well in the Liberal party it seems.

  • Joe brown
    September 19, 2012 - 09:28

    I don't get it... He is co chair of the renewal committee... I don't think he holds himself out as an ordinary liberal... How could u state that? He is trying to rebuild the party.... Hey whether he runs or not is his business.... But he ain't no shrinking violet... Who else is putting their views out there? Happy to see guys like him stir it up!

  • Scott Free
    September 19, 2012 - 08:36

    Another puppet for Danny; Little Man Dan is just covering his bases; first, he annoints Kathy as Premier, then he positions his buddy Dean to lead the Liberals. Got a backup plan for the NDP Dan? how about your old buddy and law partner, Jack Harris? It's all about control and sadly, Dan has it by virtue of so many bobbleheads in provincial politics and sheep in the electorate.

  • Duggan
    September 19, 2012 - 08:24

    Dean MacDonald was hand picked to join this committee by the same fools and hacks that caused the desintegration of the Liberal party. The same people who picked Kevin Aylward and Siobhan Coady who are 2 failed politicians. The issue is not MacDonald alone. The issue is the same old fools and hacks who want to pull the strings and get back to the trough. 9 years in the wasteland and at historically low numbers in the polls reflect that attitude and the public won't buy into it.

  • McLovin
    September 19, 2012 - 07:36

    He won't announce his intentions until after the Tories approve Muskrat Falls. We already know he is in support of the project and not declaring his intentions for the leadership allows him to avoid the political fallout and backlash from the media and the public, who appear to support this project less and less as each day goes by. It's a smart strategy in my opinion. Right now, his opinion of MF is as a private businessman, not the Leader of the Liberal Party.