The PC party has picked Sept. 12-13 for a leadership convention in the wake of Frank Coleman’s departure as a would-be premier.
Former cabinet minister John Ottenheimer declared the same day Coleman stepped down and said Friday he had been busy all week working on his leadership campaign.
“I’m very much in,” Ottenheimer said, acknowledging the PC’s performance in the polls and the leadership strife are a challenge.
But he said the party still has a chance at retaining government in the next election.
“This is a good time to enter politics. There is certainly an opportunity there,” Ottenheimer said.
“It’s no great secret the party has gone through difficult times. … I would like to be part of the resurgence of the party.
Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Steve Kent put aside his aspirations months ago when Coleman stepped up.
And now Coleman’s out, Kent said Friday he’ll make a decision in the next few weeks.
“Right now, I am focused on my family. Our new baby will arrive any day now. I am also attempting to wrap up a few matters in my role as minister,” Kent said in an email.
“Having the opportunity to lead the PC party and the province at this critical time isn’t a decision I take lightly. While our party has made amazing progress, I recognize we have work to do to rebuild confidence. I am certainly up for the challenge and if I decide to run, will commit 110 per cent to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Coleman had been the chosen candidate of party insiders, and his onetime rival, businessman Bill Barry, indicated to media this week that he may also be interested in getting back in.
Provincial PC party of Newfoundland and Labrador leadership convention committee co-chairs Sheila Kelly-Blackmore and Tommy Williams announced the new process Friday.
“There is renewed interest in our party’s leadership process, and we look forward to a vigorous campaign as contenders vie to lead our party and our province,” Kelly-Blackmore said in a news release.
“We encourage Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who support the principles and aims of our party to make a difference by either running for leader or participating in the delegate selection processes,” Williams said in the release.
“People are eager to see the growth we have achieved as a province since 2003 continue.”
PC party president Cillian Sheahan thanked Coleman for his participation in the process and wished him and his family luck.
Coleman cited family reasons for quitting.
At his announcement Tuesday, Coleman refused to provide details on his decision, other than it was a private, family matter that had emerged in the previous five days and had nothing to do with any political dust-ups over his former company Humber Valley Paving.
Coleman was the default winner in a process triggered by the resignation of former premier Kathy Dunderdale on Jan. 22.
His exit came 19 days before the scheduled start of the party's now cancelled convention during which he was to be proclaimed.
The earlier convention and AGM date of July 4-5 was cancelled.
Rules remain the same as those that governed the earlier leadership process.
- Nominations will open for the position of PC party leader at 12 p.m. island time/11:30 a.m. Labrador on Monday, at which time a registration package will be available for each candidate.
- Nominations will close for the position of PC party leader at 12 p.m. island time/ 11:30 Labrador on July 7.
- Delegate selection meetings will be held between July 14 and Aug. 14.
- The PC leadership convention and annual general meeting will be held at the Delta Convention Centre in St. John’s. The PC leader will be elected by secret ballot on Sept. 13.