Monday, September 16, 2013


“The Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador 

is asking you to help select a new leader that 

will champion your values and govern in the 

best interests of this province.”

 – Liberal Party of Newfoundland & Labrador

15 more trawling days remaining.

The pressure is on for the five individuals seeking the leadership of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. The deadline to sign up as a Member or Supporter and participate in the Leadership vote is September 30th, 2013.

Partisan blogs, failed liberal leadership candidate John Efford and even interim leader/leadership Candidate Dwight Ball have gone to great lengths to draw a line in the mud over the issue of being a "true / real liberal"

A "true/ real Liberal" to some myopics is a person who has either donated or participated in Liberal Party activities. They do not publicly question the divine infallibility of the Executive Board, the Leader or the caucus. They keep a framed picture of Joey Smallwood on their premises (even if it is in the woodhouse) and supported the Liberal Party in the cold winter of those desolate spells in opposition.

In my opinion, the frontrunner in this contest fails that narrow-minded test. Cathy Bennett is ideologically a Liberal but she has been far from a zealous party supporter.  Cathy is a true Liberal – her primary concerns are the elderly, health care, and education. But yes – she wants to be fiscally responsible.  And not wasteful like the current lot.

As a prominent St. John’s businessperson she has given to thousands of causes, been selected by not-for-profit policy think tanks, industry and government to sit on boards and influence policy. Her success as an influential business person with a huge social conscious propelled her to the A list of individuals trusted with tasks like determining MHA’s benefits, promoting the Bull Arm Fabrication facility and charting the course of NALCOR.   

She was never selected because she was a party stalwart, the hubby of a minister or a perceived rubber stamper. Bennett was chosen because of her integrity, commitment,independence and vision.

 At the Gander leadership debate Dwight Ball condescendingly welcomed her to the Liberal Party. On the VOCM debate Paul Antle trumpeted his life-long financial and personal support of the party.  It as if they feel she is not worthy to be a candidate solely because she was not in the trenches in those hard times.

Paradoxically, the party has established a new process for selecting a leader. A process that took the sole criteria, being a dyed-in-the-wool card carrying member of the Liberal Party and changed it to allow those who have not shared that zealousness to vote for the leader.

The supporter class member means Liberals realize that it is going to take many more than the paltry remaining rank and file members to form government. It is an invitation to be part of the process, to rebuild the middle-of-the-road party so it can become the next government.

Bennett has never been a tory candidate. She has supported the democratic machinery through donations to parties. She has served her province though high profile appointments. She has made a positive contribution to the community and her province. She, like most of the candidates for leader, will make a strong leader of the party and potentially the province. 

It would be foolhardy, blind and hypocritical to deny her a vote based on her liberal pedigree.  If you feel that she would make the best alternative to Kathy Dunderdale as premier, you owe it to yourself, to future generations and to democracy to participate in the process by becoming a “supporter” and casting a ballot for her.

The province is thirsty for change. The Liberals sudden rise in the polls is a reflection of the Dunderdale government's dramatic unpopularity.  The liberals have not earned support any more than Dunderdale rode on the back of Danny William's support. People outside the suffocating dome of partisanship want good government. They want to have a leader they can have confidence in.

And how can the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador grow if it does not welcome new people? What is the message being sent to the majority of non "True/real Liberals"? Don't bother, we do not want you, our mind is made up?

Remember the clock is ticking. 

You have only 15 days left to register to receive your vote and ensure the Liberal Party selects a leader that will ”champion your values and govern in the best interests of this province

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