Those were the questions that I asked in the wake of Dean MacDonald’s announcement that he will not be throwing his name into the ring for the 2013 Liberal leadership contest.
Many Liberals were disappointed, but in removing himself from the race, Dean certainly cleared the path for others to consider running.
The questions were answered with news that another well respected St. John’s businessman is eying the leadership of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Paul Antle has been telling some Liberals for some time now that he is really interested in the leadership. Like Dean MacDonald, timing has been a significant issue for the self made multi-millionaire.
Antle’s name has been making the rounds as a potential leader since Roger Grimes resigned in 2005. Nominations closed for the job in 2006 & and 2010, with Antle declining on both occasions.
It was well known that Antle was interested this time around but up to this point has been waiting for MacDonald to make up his mind.
Antle is shaking the bushes to determine how much support is out there for a leadership bid. He is also letting the party know that the major impediment for him is the timing of the leadership convention. Is that code for move the convention date or forget it?
He would prefer that the selection occur in 2014, not 2013. This is a major hurdle for any individual outside caucus that wants the job.
As this is the second “star” candidate that has expressed an interest in the job, should the party re-think the time-line that it has committed itself to?
That is a doubled edged sword. That was the rationale that led to delayed 2010 leadership process. The party waited until the year prior to the election in the false hope that candidates outside the caucus would come forward. Of course no one did, leading to the coronation of Yvonne Jones.
Like MacDonald, Antle is a successful business person who possesses the business acumen, charisma and intelligence to lead the provincial Liberal party out of its current malaise. in 2008 he said told The telegram that "I'd have to honestly say that yes, I am interested in serving the people of this province in some capacity." In particular, he has the star power to raise funds and dig the party out of the $850,000 debt that it has been carrying for over a decade.
As for those who question the caliber of potential Liberal leaders, compare Antle's educational, personal, business and volunteer experiences to those of the current Premier.
Here is what Atlantic Business Magazine had to say about the Top Atlantic CEO
President & CEO
Pluto Investments Inc.
Overachievers 'R' Us You can either be motivated by Paul Antle, or seriously intimated. The one thing you can't be is underwhelmed. This native Newfoundlander owns a private equity company (Pluto Investments), a ship repair and maintenance business (St. John's Dockyard Ltd.) and is a majority shareholder in an environmental waste management and remediation firm (West Mountain Capital Corporation). Not impressive enough for you? How about this: he received a World Young Business Achiever Award in '97; was a member of Canada's official delegation to the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in '02; and named a member of Canada's Top 40 Under 40™ in '03. In 2007 he graduated from Harvard Business School as co-valedictorian in the OPM Executive Education Program. These days, (in addition to his entrepreneurial activities), he chairs the board for the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. So, what have you done with your life lately?
Cleaning Up In 2010, the Chinese market for environmental technology was worth $450 billion – and it's just getting started. Despite the distance, language, culture, banking and other challenges, Paul Antle was determined to win some of that business. Today, his company is one of the first foreign operations with joint venture agreements for environmental services in China.
I am torn on the timing issue. The party needs a builder. An individual that is willing to roll up his or her sleeves and go for the job. Someone who can offer a progressive vision. Someone who is willing to spend a few years rebuilding the party from top to bottom.
Can Liberals risk postponing the convention on the chance that prince charming is going to ride in on a white horse? Do they have a choice?