As predicted, the by-election in Virgina Waters was called just as soon as the Conservatives had the right candidate.
The right candidate is St. John's City Councillor Danny Breen who was acclaimed at noon today. Acting Premier Tom Marshall announced that this high stakes by-election will take place on April 9th.
Breen does not have to resign his council seat. He intends to request an unpaid leave of absence for the duration of
the byelection campaign. I assume that would also include a moratorium on dealings with city officials or access to city resources.
Mr. Breen, who was just re-elected to council, through an acclamation, a few months ago has never made a secret of his ambition to seek the Conservative nomination in one of the three provincial seats that spans Ward One.
In fact, a number of individuals had approached me to consider running in the ward because they felt Breen was only going to remain there until he could find the right opportunity to run provincially.
It is a big gamble for Breen. He is hoping that his personal support will eclipse the negativity towards the current administration. The voters will have the final say but what I am hearing is that Shelia and Breen have picked a poor time to run.
Folks want to send a pretty direct message to the government that they are pissed-off and they want change. Breen can promise all the change he wants but the government's record of perceived mismanagement, arrogance, lack of transparency and non-accountability is what he will be defending at the doors. No easy task!
Particularly on a day when we learned that the "conserve energy message" being parroted by the province came at the same time that funding to assist residents to retrofit their homes to be more energy efficient was cut be half!
Imagine the gall of the premier and government MHA's telling us to conserve, conserve and conserve while they cut, cut, cut funds that would have helped seniors, young families and others reduce energy consumption? When you look at your hydro or oil bill during this record breaking cold winter - just remember the government could care less.
Voters are tired of double-talk, false sincerity and a top down approach to governance where an elite group of individuals attempt to manipulate the outcome of who sits in the Premier's chair.
This vote will be an opportunity to say, enough is enough!