A new name
has emerged in the race for the Tory Leadership.   Frank Coleman, scion of the well-known Newfoundland
business family, has confirmed to the media that he is interested in the job.  A decision is imminent.

People who know
Frank Coleman personally (I do not) describe him as bright, analytical and
thoughtful.  The same people describe him
as possessing a charisma that is “quiet and reserved”.  In all likelihood they are fans.

Even if this picture is only partly correct, Coleman would not be making this decision
on a whim; he would have the overwhelming support of the P.C. Caucus.  More likely, their support is unanimous.

expression of interest in the role of Premier is significant and not just
because he wasn’t on the media’s list. 

Coleman is being courted. 

A group of
people within and outside the Tory Caucus, including former Premier Danny
Williams, have cast their net widely.  Coleman
is deemed to possess the right mix of personal and professional credentials.  He is the guy senior Tories are counting on to
rescue the P.C. Party from crisis, if not total collapse.    

The Tories have
calculated that they need an ‘outsider’, someone with a reputation for being
forthright and honest.  The choice of
Frank Coleman reflects that imperative; without an injection of decency and credibility,
this Government is toast.

The irony
is that, once again, Danny Williams gets a say in the choice of his
successor.  He screwed up badly last
time.  A second irony is that the rank
and file of the P.C. Party, once again, may not get the opportunity to elect a

Will Bill
Barry stay in the race?  Will Shawn
Skinner enter the fray?

Coleman would be well advised, notwithstanding the hand of Danny, to welcome a
vigorous contest.  The
P.C. Party needs one; the public needs a
proper airing of some critical public policy issues.

especially need to see if Coleman is a progressive, a conservative or if, as a
business person, he is too far to the right in a Province which only allows politics
to be driven on the left.

policy matters aside, Coleman’s interest in the top spot reveals a picture more
complicated than just the need to permanently replace Kathy Dunderdale, bad
Polls, or even the Party’s banishment to the political wilderness. 

The move
suggests the few ostensibly interested Cabinet Ministers, on the media’s ‘List’,
have contemplated their fortunes and have struck themselves off. 

possess, it seems, the requisite skills, credibility or capacity to rekindle
the respect and confidence of a very disillusioned public.  None is capable of re-building the Party in
time for the next election.  It is quite
an admission for a Government in power this long.

The reality
of the Williams/Dunderdale’s legacy has finally sunk in.

Let’s face
it.  Even if one Cabinet Minister had the
support of other colleagues, who among the general public would believe him/her
capable of dealing arms-length with Nalcor, strong enough to look voters in the
eye and stand accountable, or be suddenly able to make policy decisions the
Government has long avoided?

The answer
is: no one.

questions beg acknowledgement.

If Frank
Coleman is acceptable: why not Bill Barry? 
Both are outsiders.

For some
reason, neither Bill Barry nor any of the “pretenders” on the media List were judged
against the delegate selection process that ultimately determines the outcome
of the Contest.  It failed to answer the
question: from where would their support come?

Why, for
example, can’t Bill Barry win? 

Simply put,
Mr. Barry cannot command a large block of support from Caucus.  Hence, he cannot win.

And make no
mistake the Caucus will determine the outcome of the Race.  There is no mystery; it is all about the

The P.C
Party’s Constitution requires that if there are two or more Candidates, a Convention
will be held in which eligible delegates are permitted to vote. 

delegates will include the P.C. Caucus, a large number of ex-officio delegates
(defined as Tory Senators, former Tory MHAs, MPs and former MPs and Provincial
Executive Members) AND eleven
delegates from each District Association.

When you
consider the numerical influence from District delegates, which might comprise
up to three-quarters of the whole ‘electoral college’, you begin to assess the
importance of the Caucus’ collective sway. 

Members are not only influential, in their own right; they are the ones most
capable of organizing delegate elections at the local level. 

In a
nutshell, the organizational apparatus favors them.  Only if the Caucus’ loyalties are severely
fractured can Ridings, which have no sitting Tory Member, really count.  In such a circumstance, Frank Coleman would
not be courted at all.

Coleman has the Caucus united around him. 
The Race is over.

Only Bill
Barry stands in the way of unanimity. Sean Skinner can perform these
calculations. My guess: you won’t hear from him.

That said,
no one should be foolish enough to ask Bill Barry or Sean Skinner to step aside.
The Tory Party needs some constructive tension, a period of serious public
policy debate; it needs an opportunity to breathe following not one but two
suffocating Leaders.

Besides, the
public needs to know what Frank Coleman stands for.

All that
said, in the absence of any more surprises, and based on the math, you had best
get your bunting unpacked. 

All Hail: Premier
Frank Coleman.
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?


  1. The Williams years led to the dearth of inspired leadership in this province. His charisma overshadowed deep flaws that led to the electorate confusing ranting and raving with real leadership. His style got attention and his aggressive stance brought out the worst in all of those who supported that notion of leadership…… but it led to the loss of any real leadership on the political front.

    The media were unwitting conspirators in this abdication of responsibility but ultimately the voters who supported his vision were responsible for the demise of real leadership in this province. It may take a generation before we come around to discovering the meaning of principled leadership and the need for consensus in making crucial decisions.

    Danny, and then Kathy, did not trust the electorate to make an informed decision on Muskrat Falls so they baffled us with obfuscation and BS, while simultaneously taking away our right to know. If the facts of this fiasco had been fairly presented, I am confident the electorate would have turned it down. Unfortunately, we were inundated with bafflegab and propaganda that people mistook to be factual, early on, and the government took the early "support" for a licence to gamble with the future. As the facts started to emerge, they chose to ignore them and tried to discredit people who had absolutely no reason to oppose this issue…. other than on the merits, or lack thereof, of the business case for Muskrat. That the "naysayers" had more facts and a better handle on the situation was beyond their comprehension, or was it? They pushed this project to sanction for nefarious reasons, in my opinion, and I expect there will be an inquiry down the road that shows nothing short of negligence, at best. The truth will ultimately emerge and, when it does, history will not be kind to the politicians who foisted this project upon a passive, apathetic, and largely unsuspecting electorate.

    I don't know that I subscribe to the leadership style of Mr. Barry, who appears to be another of those "my way or the highway" kinds of business leaders. There is a place for single-mindedness but politics is a complicated art and there are many competing interests. No business model can successfully deal with the myriad of issues that politics presents and flexibility, combined with an ability to develop consensus, is crucial to real leadership. Compassion, concern, and ultimately fair-minded people, are needed more than ever in the political arena. Electoral reform, fair distribution of resources, devolution of powers to regions….all of these are essential to good governance. The recent consolidation of educational and health institutions are but two examples of misguided policies that will ultimately cause more problems than they solve and can only replace one bloated bureaucracy with another.

    In business, the more you consolidate power, the less strength you build in your grassroots economy. Competition is the mantra for big business but ironically it also gives a monopoly to large multinationals. In the final analysis, local control and decision-making is eliminated and leads to a feeling of disenfranchisement.

  2. The morning Fred Hutton had him on the radio sounded like he just woke up off the day bed, and was doing his best to humour VOCM, no interest, emotion, passion. Just something to keep something else out of the headlines.