Not my circus
Not my monkeys — Polish proverb
If you don’t win an election, you should only be able to be premier of the province for a certain amount of time. That was an idea promised in the 2003 election and brought in by the government of then-premier Danny Williams in 2004.
It looked like this:
Election on change of premier
3.1 Where the leader of the political party that forms the government resigns his or her position as leader and as premier of the province before the end of the third year following the most recent general election, the person who is elected by the party to replace him or her as the leader of the party and who is sworn in as the premier of the province by the Lieutenant-Governor shall, not later than 12 months afterward, provide advice to the Lieutenant-Governor that the House of Assembly be dissolved and a general election be held.
But now that we’re chugging along into our second campaign to find a leader for the rudderless Tories, perhaps it’s worth going back in time to look at the issues raised about the legal change, and the response those concerns got.
Liberal Anna Thistle had this to say about the perceived changes: “But, what it does not say, it does not say how long the governing party will give to the leadership review — how long will it be for that to take place. That could be two years. That is not clarified in this particular clause. In actuality, the governing party, if they do not see fit to have a leadership review and install or elect a new leader, it is quite possible they could let that run as long as they wanted to. That is not clarified in that particular clause … Now, I think we are blindfolding the devil in the dark here. I think we are blindfolding the devil in the dark because there is no set limit on that clause as to when the leadership review must occur. The only thing that is there for replacing the premier is that once the premier is elected as the leader of that particular party, he or she has one year to call the election. I think there is a loophole there that the governing party, the Progressive Conservatives, are trying to gloss over so that nobody will see. It will be a loophole that the governing party can use to their advantage to not call a leadership review or delay calling a leadership review and have all that time of organizing their party and then have in a year from the time the leader is elected.”
In 2004, government frontman Ed Byrne had all the answers: “The fact of the matter is that I do not know of any political party, ones here, ones that exist in Western democracies that would allow a situation where a leader of party or a premier resigns, to allow a situation to continue — particularly if you are the government — where you do not elect a leader in the quickest possible fashion, in a democratic fashion … I just do not conceive of ever a time or a place that a political party would allow a situation, particularly a governing party, where you would allow a premier who resigns, for whatever reason, and then allow a process to unfold for over two years before you elect a leader of a government. I mean what rubbish! Really! Practically speaking, the government would never survive. … Governments and parties do not survive without leadership. It is the fundamental necessary building block and it flows from there.”