Key Liberal decides against federal run, not ruling out
It's bad news for the federal Liberals, but it could be big news for the party's provincial chapter.
Paul Antle has officially decided he won't take another crack at St. John's East for the federal Liberals.
While he isn't confirming any of the rumours just yet, it seems he's not ruling out the idea of someday taking aim at the provincial Liberal leadership.
"I have not closed the door on anything. I'm leaving the door wide open," Antle told The Telegram. "I do see myself in public service at some point in the future and, hopefully, the near future.
"I'd have to honestly say that yes, I am interested in serving the people of this province in some capacity."
Antle had given popular current St. John's East MP Norm Doyle a run for his money, falling just short during the most recent federal election in January 2006.
He said his reasons for opting out of the race this time around has little to do with politics.
With a new business venture in full roar and a Liberal nomination expected in mid to late January, Antle says the timing is all wrong for him.
"In order to win in St. John's East you need to earn the respect of the voters, you have to be focused on what is happening and you have to dedicate 100 per cent of your effort, time and energy. Unfortunately, for me, right now, I simply wouldn't be able to commit to that because this business venture requires a lot of my focus," he said.
"I have a commitment to a new group of investors and shareholders, and I cannot turn away from having made that commitment."
On the provincial scene, the drastically reduced Liberal party is in a rebuilding phase.
At only 43 and with a strong business resume to his credit, Antle is viewed by some Liberals as being the kind of young, new blood that could potentially lead the party back to past glory further down the road.
Antle said "there is lots that can be done" to help improve Liberal fortunes in Newfoundland and Labrador, but said he preferred to keep those ideas to himself until he's had the opportunity to have a chat with current leader, Yvonne Jones.
"I will work with Yvonne Jones as leader to do what I can to help rebuild and help strengthen and move the party forward. I will be involved in a very positive way," he said.
Meanwhile, although Antle had been a campaign manager in this province for Michael Ignatieff's federal Liberal leadership bid, he said he supports Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.
"Given the circumstances, with Harper having a minority government I think Dion has been able to hold in there and keep the party front and centre. Harper hasn't made any kind of ground like people expected him to make."
Antle tossed out a bouquet of thanks to supporters and campaign workers who had aided his past forays into the political realm. He acknowledges he may need them again at some point in the future.
"These people are grassroots, and are very important for anyone in political life so I certainly don't take them for granted," he said.
"I'm sure opportunities will come my way in the political realm in the future and I will look at each and every one of them."