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Gillian Pearson is the nominee for the PCs in Mount Pearl-Southlands, but almost had an incumbent opponent
Independent Mount Pearl-Southlands MHA Paul Lane was moments away from re-joining the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, but withdrew his name from consideration at the last moment.
The PC party called for nominations for the district of Mount Pearl-Southlands on Feb. 26, and announced Gillian Pearson as the successful nominee on Feb. 28. Pearson is the founder of Parents for Affordable Childcare NL, a group holding a panel on Thursday evening in St. John’s calling for affordable childcare.
Pearson narrowly avoided a contest for the nomination, as Lane had his nomination papers ready to go.
“I had given strong consideration to running for the PCs and I decided against it. That decision was made at the last minute,” said Lane.
Rumours have swirled around the legislature that Lane’s bid for the PC nomination in the district was based on an understanding that Lane would not have to endure a nomination contest. With Pearson putting her name in the race, the word was that Lane withdrew his name to avoid the contest.
Lane says that’s not true.
“I did give it serious consideration and I had the nomination papers and so on. I think it’s fair to say there was a good chance I was going to run, but in the end, I decided not to run,” he said.
“I prefer not to go any further than that, because I have no interest in mudslinging or any of the other stuff associated sometimes with partisan politics and whatever. I’m not getting into it. If others want to comment or speculate or whatever, they can fill their boots.”
The other person speculated to have played a role in halting Lane’s nomination is Mount Pearl North MHA Jim Lester.
Lester says he played no role in introducing Pearson to nomination, outside of regular contact with anyone interested in seeking a nomination for the party.
“We as a party, and myself in particular, we are an open party in which we host an open nomination process,” said Lester.
“I was not aware of any deals between any one individual. Constitutionally, it’s impossible to seclude a nomination process to one person. I went though a nomination process myself. If there had been a nomination contest, that would have been good.”
Lester denied allegations that he tried to prevent Lane from getting on the PC ballot.
“Myself and Paul Lane, we work together quite well. I did run against him in 2015, but I don’t have to worry about that now because I’m in a separate district,” he said.
“I have no personal agenda against Paul Lane.”
Lester says he’s hopeful Pearson will find success in the coming general election.
“She’s a great candidate, part of a demographic that’s not adequately represented in politics. I would encourage everybody, most specifically demographics that are not represented in the legislature,” he said.
Lane says his decision to not seek the PC nomination in the district has nothing to do with Ches Crosbie and his leadership. But Lane will be on the ballot, whenever the provincial election is called.
“My intention as of today is to run as an independent in that district in the next provincial election,” he said.
“I know that a day is a lifetime in politics, so who knows? Anything could happen.”