Friday, April 25, 2014


The first person in the province to announce his intentions to succeed Kathy Dunderdale, both as P.C. Party Leader and Premier, Bill Barry withdrew from the race because he says the outcome was fixed.

In yesterday's The Telegram article entitled “How to rig a leadership” the entrepreneur whines like a baby about the process, the rules, the individuals in charge of the process and the total lack of support from the parliamentary wing of the party.

I am not an apologist for the PC Party, they are mired in quite a political quagmire. However as a political organizer who has been involved in many heated nomination and leadership races, Bill Barry's whining rings so hollow that I had to say something.

Is it just me, or is this guy off his rocker?

 A political novice with a far right wing agenda and a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease. No one forced him into a race.  Like his co-candidate Bennett, it appeared from the start that he was not just anti-government but anti-Progressive Conservative.

He was never considered a serious contender for the job.

From day one, Barry isolated himself from large chunks of the Progressive Conservative Party by challenging Muskrat Falls, Bill 29, the P.C. Parties financial management of the treasury amongst other things.  

Has Barry forgotten his infamous letter to the caucus outlining a right wing privatization agenda for many government services.

He sounded more like a candidate for the leadership of an opposition party than a Progressive Conservative. It was as if he forgot that PC Party members select their leader. His outspoken criticism of the Danny years led to former Danny Williams saying he could not support Barry as leader of the party.

With money to burn and a zealous personality, some Progressive Conservatives  began to look for alternatives. Why wouldn't they? Over a dozen people were touted as potential candidates, but when the curtain fell on nominations for the job only three political newbies were in it to win it.

The most credible to those engaged was Frank Coleman.  Unlike the outspoken Barry, he was not a household name in the province. Very little was known about him except that he was a dedicated family man who had grown an independent grocery chain from his perch in Corner Brook. It might turn out to be a mistake, time will tell.

Barry was known for controversial money making decisions in the fishery – selling herring to Russian Factory Freezer Trawlers while local fisherman were idled onshore, campaigning to decertify unions at his fish plants and buying plants in communities like Burgeo and transferring the licenses/quota allocations to other locations, some out of the province altogether. 

He is neither charismatic, charming or all that articulate. 

However, he is blunt, to the point and passionate. Three qualities that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians like.

By throwing his name into the mix he was doing a great service to the party but it was all for not. Spending limits meant he could not buy the leadership through the questionable organizational techniques he admits to employing for past candidates for the job.

The number one issue on the minds of P.C supporters is can the candidate win an election? Barry’s failure to ignite, his foot-in-mouth disease and his lack of political prowess ensured he remained a fringe candidate.

He positioned himself as the anti-establishment candidate but failed to organize  the bodies needed at district delegate selection meetings to elect pro-Barry candidates.

Instead he pouted and whined that the results were fixed. 
He suggests that MHA’s should not be manipulating the outcome by organizing slates. What a pile of B.S. If he could not energize the race to bring in the new members that he needed to elect him leader, than perhaps that might be considered the proof that the  product is flawed - not the process.

Yet, the media, seem determined to give him even more attention, allowing him inches of print and prime time news spots to cry poor me!

Barry was never a serious threat to win the leadership, but the fear of matching his spending power (to the limit) caused many potential candidates to reconsider a run. No doubt there must have been senior Progressive Conservatives beating the bushes for the right candidate for the job, just like Liberals have beaten the bushes looking for the right leadership candidate in the past. For example, former Premier Clyde Wells did not seek the Liberal Party leadership in 1987 without a lot of cajoling and lobbying. He was a reluctant bride that received a stipend from anonymous supporters above the rate of pay for an MHA and Leader of the Opposition up to his election as Premier in 1989.

All of Barry’s moaning and groaning is as bizarre as his desire to re-enter the race if he can be guaranteed a fair process. 

From my vantage point the process and the rules treated everyone the same.  Barry just did not offer the parliamentary or extra-parliamentary wings of the party electoral success or hope. He does not have a premier like aura.

Many are called, and only a few are selected. He had the money and the will to run but finding the support he needed to win, or even placing a respectable second was an impossible task.

In the end, Bill Barry was a victim of his own approach. The article should have been entitled “How to destroy a leadership bid” but that does not fit the narrative.

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