How to rig a leadership race

James McLeod
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Bill Barry says ‘probably a dozen’ insiders picked Frank Coleman for PC leader

Bill Barry knows how to rig a delegated convention, if you’re trying to do that sort of thing. He was involved in doing it last time around, 25 years ago, when the PC party selected Tom Rideout to be premier.

Bill Barry sat down with the Telegram Wednesday to talk politics, underhanded campaigning and the straw that broke the camel's back and pushed him out of the race.— Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

Back then, there were all sorts of underhanded tricks, but the easiest one was to simply book a small venue for the delegate selection meeting.

“You’d normally pick a building that you could only put a hundred people into. Then the fire marshal, the fire code would shut it down after a hundred,” he said. “So all you had to do was make sure that your 60 or 70 people got there first. Then it was done.”

Back then, as a campaign worker in the Bay of Islands district, Barry said he was involved in all sorts of stuff.

“You’d be hauling people out of bars, and I can remember, one day we gave out 300 dozen beer or something,” Barry said.

Fast-forward a couple decades, and he said he expected the leadership process to be more on the up-and-up.

“Yes, I’m asking it to be different than the delegated conventions 25 years ago. Yes I am. I have that expectation. But you know what? Before they cashed my cheque of $10,000 I told them I had that expectation. I told them for two months that I had that expectation that this was going to be a clean delegated convention,” Barry said. “I am not OK with small-minded people manipulating people in their own districts that they think that they want, to give them power over who’s going to be the God damn premier. I am not OK with that.”

Barry surprised a lot of people in political circles last Thursday when he bowed out of the PC Party leadership race. He said the deck was stacked against him, and the party machine was boxing him out.

He sat down to talk with The Telegram over lunch Wednesday to explain what he saw that convinced him that the fix was in.

The turning point was the Bonavista South delegate selection meeting. At that meeting, Barry said every single convention delegate was nominated by local MHA Glen Little’s constituency assistant.

And at the April 10 meeting, Barry said he saw people passing around small printed cards with names on them, telling people who to vote for.

The next night, April 11, The Telegram sent a reporter to the Trinity-Bay de Verde district delegate selection meeting in Heart’s Content, and observed similar activities.

When questioned, everybody in Heart’s Content said they knew nothing about little printed cards with names on them. The Telegram was planning on investigating the matter further at other delegate selection meetings, but then Barry dropped out of the race before we got a chance.

Barry made a formal complaint about unfair campaign practices to the PC party, but he said he was brushed off.

Barry said he had a message that he wanted to get out, and he believed that people would find his views on the direction for the provincial government compelling, but he met with obstruction and a deaf ear during the campaign.

He said he pushed for a series of televised debates, but his opponent, Frank Coleman, stalled and declined. Finally, the Coleman camp agreed to a half-hour radio debate on May 1, but by that time, the campaign was already half over and at least 14 delegate selection meetings would have already taken place.

The Telegram requested an interview with premier-in-waiting Frank Coleman for this story, but a spokeswoman said he was unavailable.

Barry said he’d get back into the race if the party addressed his concerns and made it a level playing field. Convention co-chair Tommy Williams told The Telegram that as far as they’re concerned, Barry is out of the race.

Williams said the party will likely make an announcement today about what happens next.

Stepping back and taking a look at the big picture, Barry said he thinks that the Liberal model for a party leadership is better, with voting open to anybody who wants to sign up. The Liberals also held a series of debates before anybody cast a ballot.

The way things happened, though, Barry said it seems a very small group of insiders picked Frank Coleman.

“Your premier is chosen by, probably a dozen people,” he said. “It was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was told by a particular individual that I was providing a great service to the party. And I was thinking about, you know, the bull servicing the cow, and thinking that I was the cow.”



Organizations: PC Party

Geographic location: Bonavista South

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Recent comments

  • Pamela
    April 25, 2014 - 12:50

    If politics was fair Paul Antle would have won the Liberal leadership. The entrenched ex officio vote did him in too.

  • Corporate Psycho
    April 24, 2014 - 20:41

    I guess Mr. Barry didn't fit in with the Williams Party.

  • I'm sickened by this revelation by Mr. Barry!
    April 24, 2014 - 17:34

    Oh my Gosh!!! I now see more clearly the corruption that has gone on in our province. I mean how low will people stoop to achieve their means? The picture is plainer now on why, despite our great natural resource base and our great location endowed to us by nature, we have only managed to build a mediocre economy that has kept us having the worst economy in Canada for 65 years. First they looked after getting themselves elected by stacking the decks, then they looked after themselves and their business acquaintances through the development of our natural resources they selected on their watch. What a bunch of hoodlums?

  • a business man
    April 24, 2014 - 14:11

    None of this matters to me. I will vote for the party that is best alligned with my business interests. Who the leader is actually means very little for me. Profitability drives my decision making process. Period.

  • Harvey
    April 24, 2014 - 11:38

    Bill Barry, your crude,vile, imbicellic ways of expression points clearly to the crude, vile, imbicellic person you are. Shut up, go away.

  • Ladybug
    April 24, 2014 - 11:27

    Karma my friend is a bitch.

  • Howie
    April 24, 2014 - 10:38

    I'm sort of amused at the kiffufle inside the PC party. I have been a PC all my life and helped unseat the ultimate dictator in 1972 with the expectations that things would get better and we would never again live in a dictatorship but sadly nothing has changed. It's all about power not electric power but power of ego minds. While this remains our system will never change. Personally I don't think that mr Coleman will make a good premier I just have an empty feeling about the future of the party unless they change their ways.

  • Christopher Chafe
    April 24, 2014 - 10:07

    Just what do you PC haters think went on in the Liberal Convention when Roger Grimes became Leader of the Liberal Party.

  • Mark
    April 24, 2014 - 09:43

    Hard to disagree with Mr. Barry's view of the leadership rules. But isn't leadership about spotting a problem twenty five years ago and working with others to try and fix it, rather than waiting for someone else to do it in time for when it's convenient for you? Every other political party in this country has evolved - changing (bit by bit) their leadership selection rules to address these kinds of problems. But in Newfoundland, save (perhaps) for the recent changes the Liberals made, we haven't really budged since 1949.

  • Dave
    April 24, 2014 - 09:06

    A dozen? Oh Danny's boy The polls, the polls are calling You can't go wrong with Danny in your cove Bill Barry's goose was cooked in Danny's roaster As soon as Dan-ny lit his Coleman stove.

  • Nick
    April 24, 2014 - 08:44

    Mr. Barry is being disingenuous. I saw on tweeter a number of people talking about how he bussed people into meetings and at another meeting brought in management staff and spouses from a nearby fish plant. And now he cries fowl???

  • Linda
    April 24, 2014 - 08:41

    Sorry this isn't about sour grapes. Its about freedom of choice. Has a province of N & L we just don't have its anymore. Just look back in July 2013/ what took place, People just stood by, and let it happen, once more its coming back to life with this Frank Coleman. We are finding out for ourselves, Mr Coleman don't have anymore integrity then Mr Ball. Just saying

  • Torey Nomore
    April 24, 2014 - 08:33

    er, Bill....did you expect anything different from the Secret Society known as the Con Party of NL? Danny Rulz 'bye; get over it@

  • Harold F Porter
    April 24, 2014 - 08:32

    Mr. Barry I sort of resent you indicating that I as a voting delegate was bought off. There were more at large delegates than the cacus,which is one branch of the party. You made you own bed with that branch. I guess that back fired. You should have realized that in the beggining. It's my vote to place where I want to.Sour grapes indeed.

  • Torey Nomore
    April 24, 2014 - 08:32

    er, Bill....did you expect anything different from the Secret Society known as the Con Party of NL? Danny Rulz 'bye; get over it@

  • Sick of the shills
    April 24, 2014 - 08:14

    Notice how the PC apologists (aka shills) all have the common theme of dismissing their dirty process and denigrating Barry? How 'open and accountable' of them....

  • Gerard
    April 24, 2014 - 08:00

    So Barry obviously has a bad case of sour grapes and basically admits what a scumbag he is in a tantrum worthy of a two year old. Thanks Bill. For dropping out.

  • Carlson
    April 24, 2014 - 07:49

    I really don't care how a party elects a leader with the way things are now. I don't care if they do it based on highest score in PacMan. It's a stupid thing to let them do in any case. I think a party should be forced to choose a leader AFTER they "win" the election from the people who have actually been elected. All this focus on one stupid seat has given too much power to one person. "Vote team Pete" or "Vote team Susan" or whatever is so incredibly dumb. It's the reason almost every vote we cast has no meaning anymore. The party is forced to vote with the "leader" so we only get to vote on who will be dictator. That is disgusting. It's not how our system was designed, and it is the reason it is broken. It's also the reason your local MHA always seems so gutless and unreachable. Stop accepting the idea that we're electing the "leader" during our election. That's what they do in presidental systems, and in those systems (which we do NOT have) they have seperate elections for the local representatives precisely so you don't just elect just the dictator. Look it up. Our system is not a presidental system and we are most certainly NOT supposed to be choosing a "premier" or PM when we vote. Parties should not be able to tell you who will be premier after election, because they shouldn't be able to assume that person will be elected to their local seat in the first place.

  • Scott
    April 24, 2014 - 07:47

    @ Jack Parsons, Should it be about grass root foundation concerning all of the people of the province? Shouldn't it be base on the best possible person. to represent all district, Jack wouldn't you like to see your community come back to life, see our young people staying at home, and building a future , where our grandchildren living in the same community has their grandparents? Is Mr Barry or Mr Coleman the men for the people? answer is no.

    • Bert
      April 24, 2014 - 12:07

      @Scott, your arguments are stale and outdated. The majority of young people that go away have very little interest in returning to NL to live. They have made friends there and their children also have their friends. People go to Alberta and Ontario when they are young to spread their wings not because they are forced. NLers can stay in NL if they want. Get a trade Plumbing, Carpenter, Electrician, Drywaller etc. Go to University for a Doctor, Nurse, teacher, etc. and stay in NL. No Scott cut out the lame excuses , It won't fly.

  • Newf on 'da lose
    April 24, 2014 - 07:46

    Kinda sounds like the underhanded actions taken these days with a certain Labrador West Town Council. Secret meetings, proposals to cause distress to residents, potential conflict of interest by the mayor and council members in gaining inside information on contracts. You name it, corruption is alive and well in Lab West as well. Give someone an inch they take the whole mile and then some. 95% of those in politics are crooks, plain and simple. No wonder voter turn out is so low.

  • Bitter Bill
    April 24, 2014 - 07:03

    He's whining about losing to a system he helped create.

  • Jack Parsons
    April 24, 2014 - 06:56

    Almost unbelievable. A successful businessman crying cause no one liked his plan to be leader. Give me a break. It's always easier to blame someone else for your short comings. Bill be a man and accept the truth, Your ideas never resonated with us the grass roots. Just saying.

  • J
    April 24, 2014 - 05:51

    My vote will be going to a Liberal in the next election. These PC's here are no better than the PC's out in Alberta. And make no mistake - there is not a true conservative among them.

  • Laughable
    April 24, 2014 - 05:25

    Mr Barry, The liberals had there own way doing a fix, how do you think we got Dwight Ball? Just ask Ivy, who was wishing some one else would come forwards. Just like Judy Morrow said to Bill Rowe, She and the party feel Dwight was the best person for the party, Not the people. and we all know how that turn out.

  • KD
    April 24, 2014 - 04:44

    I thunk its sour grapes on Mr Barrys part if he wanted to make changes with the voting procedure he should have stayed in the race now he is known as a quitter.In the beginning he should have kept his mouth shut and not make personal attacks on the very people he expected to vote for him.It is not good for the PC party to have a coronation.

  • Jimmy
    April 24, 2014 - 03:52

    No! I don't believe it! Politics is dirty? Is this supposed to be a shocker? Aside from that, it's a party... not a full blown election. Barry should not try to make people feel jilted, the Party is selecting the ones THEY want. That's not wrong. The people ultimately speak. Barry, you're no stranger to dirt. Like all of us, it's fine when you're the one shoveling it out, but when it works against you, then your cry and whine. Go away, boy, I think everybody has spoken before an election and saved outselves from having to listen and look at you.