The next provincial election is scheduled for Tuesday October 13, 2015.
That is a long way off.
The Progressive Conservatives are in perpetual campaign mode. They are operating under a take no prisoners approach, often more effective on the attack than either of the opposition parties. The Liberals, who held on to the role of official opposition by a hair, are in renewal mode. The New Democrats are adjusting to their new found position.
I do not expect either party’s current leader to take them into the 2015 campaign. The Liberals will select/anoint a new leader on November 17th 2013. The timing is good, in so much as it will give the new leader ample time to put his/her stamp on the party, get out to tour the province, fund raise and put together a strategic co-coordinated election campaign.
To put it all in perspective, Businessman Danny Williams announced his intention to become leader of the fledgling Progressive Conservative Party in 2000. He became leader in April of 2001. He was in the House of Assembly representing Humber West by June. He spent the next two years rebuilding, recruiting, fundraising and preparing for the election.
My point is that whoever takes the job, they need the time to organize, build a profile, recruit, fundraise and resuscitate those hibernating Liberals.
The New Democrats are not saddled with debt but their provincial organization remains disjointed and weak. A new leader, presumably from within caucus is going to inherit the best situation that any incoming New Democrat has ever had. They will have to overcome some bruised egos from the leadership contest and implement their vision over a party that has been reluctant to change, held back by the small the founders who prefer agitation to electoral success. This will be a pivotal moment for the NDP. If they are to leapfrog the Liberals they need to elect more MHAs.
This is going to take a new type of leadership. Although the NDP were able to make great headway, electing one rural member, and nearly electing two others, they need to close the deal and deliver MHAs from all across the rural landscape if they hope to form a government, or seize the official opposition. That is going to take a person who knows, understands and preferably is from rural Newfoundland and Labrador. That person also needs to acceptable and electable in St. John’s. A couple of people come to mind. Time will tell what the outcome of the transition from the capable hands of Loraine Micheal to the unknown will produce.
The P.C’s offer a new leader the resources of government and the title of Premier. They are flush with cash but have grown a little long in the tooth. What was fresh in 2003 is going to look old in 2015. When Premier Dunderdale packs it in, others from the class of 2003 will have to make some career decisions. Will they stay, will they go? No one who has joined the caucus, with the notable exception of Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy, has made much of an impression. What ever it is that kept Kennedy out of the race last time will undoubtedly prevent him from running for the top job this time.
The other big advantage the PC’s have is that they will probably be the last of the three parties to renew the top job. They will have the advantage of selecting someone to balance the strengths and weaknesses of the new NDP and Liberal leaders.
The party needs some new blood, some vision and a leader with zest, charisma & integrity. That is a tall order for a party that has been in power for three terms. That said there are plenty of eager beavers in the backbench that want the job. Folks like David Brazil, Keith Hutchings, perennial boy scout Steve Kent, Derick Dalley, Paul Davis and Charlene Johnson will all undoubtedly hear the call. The question is, who will be chosen?
It should make for an interesting couple of years on the local political front.