Wednesday, April 2, 2014


It has been a bizarre and unsettling period for the Provincial Conservative Party. 

Public support for the party collapsed under Premier Kathy Dunderdale.  Her resignation, following her poor performance during the blackouts of late December and early January led, to a leadership nomination process where not a single member of her caucus was willing to step forward to contest the top job.

Bill Barry, a right wing Corner Brook businessman was fairly quick off the mark in announcing his intentions to seek leadership. He was followed by Wayne Bennett, a former Newfoundland and Labrador First Party candidate. At nearly the last minute, another Corner Brook businessman, Frank Coleman filed his papers.

As leadership races go, this one has been grabbing headlines due to the bizarre. From a competitive point of view, there is no race. All the Queen's horses and all the Queen's men are solidly behind Coleman. 

Bennett and Barry are very much anti-establishment candidates, both claim the process is flawed and the outcome is predetermined.

Barry has put forward a consistent economic and social agenda that reflects his personal ideology. He has been very critical of the Conservatives past record. Bennett has added an element of wackiness to the race that continues to embarrass party members. The retired military veteran has an axe to grind with the Newfoundland Progressive Conservative Party and is using the leadership as his pulpit.

After a barrage of controversial Tweets last week, the Conservatives have been forced to review Bennett's status as a leadership candidate. The rules committee is expected to make a decision in the next couple of days. Bennett says that if he is ejected from the race, he will launch a court challenge.

Yesterday, Bennett filed a complaint with the RNC suggesting that some Conservatives attempted to hack his social media accounts, specifically Twitter.

He also says that party members have been smearing him. Last week he Tweeted about his concern for his personal safety and misgivings about never receiving a flat screen TV he won at a PC convention.

Is he paranoid, delusional and racist? Have PC Party members really been trying to sabotage his campaign? So far all that exists is his allegations which have not been backed up by a shred of evidence.

The sideshow has been a major distraction, reflecting poorly on the party's already ailing image in the eyes of the public.

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