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Former Tory premier Paul Davis to step aside, triggering byelection

Former premier Paul Davis announced Thursday at the Paradise Double Ice Complex that, after 17 years in politics, he is resigning as MHA for Topsail-Paradise.
Former premier Paul Davis announced Thursday at the Paradise Double Ice Complex that, after 17 years in politics, he is resigning as MHA for Topsail-Paradise. - David Maher

Former Tory premier Paul Davis has set the speculation to rest: he’s resigning as MHA for Topsail-Paradise and leaving politics.

Davis made the announcement on Thursday afternoon at the Paradise Double Ice Complex, surrounded by supporters, current and former members of the House of Assembly and family members.

There was speculation the move would allow Davis to become a federal candidate in 2019, but Davis put the rumours to rest.

“I’m not running in the provincial election or federal election in 2019, as I’ve been asked a thousand times,” said Davis.

Davis says there are no health concerns or other jobs lined up to push him out of political life. He says the move is what’s best for himself and his family.

“Politics is really tough. It’s tough on your family, tough on people around you, tough on your friends,” said Davis.

“The time is right. After 17 years in politics, it’s a good time for me to move.”

After joining the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in 1985, Davis was first elected to office in 2001 as a councillor in Conception Bay South. He became an MHA in 2010, following Elizabeth Marshall’s appointment to the senate.

Davis held a number of cabinet minister portfolios in his time as part of the governing party, culminating in becoming the 12th premier of the province after a dramatic leadership convention in 2014.

Davis says he doesn’t think about his legacy, though he’s very proud of the Paradise Double Ice Complex, which came to be during his time in office.

“I came into politics with my integrity intact and I wanted to leave that way. There will always be people critical of me, I can imagine the tweets, but I’ve tried to do that, to stay true to myself,” he said.

Cheryl Davis, councillor-at-large in Conception Bay South and Davis’s wife, says she’s thrilled that she’ll get to see Davis more.

She expected to be asked whether she’ll consider seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in the coming byelection to replace Davis, but she doesn’t anticipate putting her name in that race right now.

“I can’t see it, but in this racket, you never say never,” she said.

Davis’s resignation is effective Nov. 2, meaning a byelection will have to be called within 60 days.

Currently, the fixed election date in Newfoundland and Labrador is Oct. 9, 2019. If an MHA resigns less than six months before the fixed election date, no byelection is held. Had Davis resigned effective April 8, 2019, no byelection would be called.

In terms of byelection costs, the Mount Pearl North byelection, for example, cost Elections Newfoundland and Labrador $107,690 in salaries and expenses.

Premier Dwight Ball, Davis’s longtime political nemesis as both premier and leader of the opposition, sent his regards via social media.

“Sending my well wishes to Paul Davis today as he announced he will be moving on from politics. Good luck in the new chapter,” read a tweet from the premier’s account.

New Democratic Party Leader Gerry Rogers also tweeted congratulations to Davis on his career.

“I really, really liked working with you, an honour actually.”

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

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