The two
contenders for the P.C Leadership are having a tough time finding their
footing. Bill Barry and Frank Coleman, two successful businessmen, have not
quite grasped the challenge for which they have signed on.

As business
people, they understand the principles and challenges of team-building and
organization, financing, management effectiveness, and marketing. These skills are
as relevant to winning the Office of Premier as they are perquisites to running
profitable enterprises. Given their backgrounds, who should be more capable of defining
goals, conjuring strategies and demonstrating success? 

So far
neither Candidate, especially Coleman, has demonstrated he understands the
elements of a province-wide campaign or the capability to draw all of them together.

I don’t get
  Roughly 45 people attended a
delegate selection meeting in the District of Topsail, 100 in Clarenville (Trinity
North) and a handful at Memorial!
  Even the
third Party NDP can attract such a turnout!
  Voters numbering in the 300-500 range,
sometimes far more, came out in earlier leadership races when Peckford, Rideout
and Verge were contenders.

Why was the
turnout so high, then, and not now?  Those
candidates boasted skilled organizations. 
Perhaps, they understood that failing to get their delegates elected meant
the math would work against them.

Almost 24,000
voters participated in last year’s Liberal Leadership contest; based upon early
showings, the Tories will not come close to that figure.

If either Frank
Coleman or Bill Barry were asked to compete for the right to manufacture and
market a widget you can bet your booties that, as consumers, you would already
be inundated with information as to the advantages of Coleman’s widget over
Barry’s and vice versa. 
Related story:

Politics is not
the same as making or marketing widgets but many of the principles employed in
the winning strategies of business are very similar. 

elemental is the requirement that Candidates will organize at a high level and communicate
with voters; even then their best efforts (or the perfect widget) might still fail.

So far, the Leadership
race has no energy.  It has no
focus.  It is inspiring no one.  Yet, the Contest is (or ought to be) an
essential aspect of the Party’s renewal process; its importance is even more
pronounced in consequence of the Virginia Waters loss.

Coleman is not talking policy (or anything else). He has said he wants to do
more of what the Tories did previously.  
That’s not going to work.    

If he
expects Danny Williams to carry the can, that won’t work either.  Danny has just torn up the pavement in
Virginia Waters and proved he is passé.  Anyway,
the public want to hear from Coleman, not from Danny.

Bill Barry
is writing policies though he is not getting the notice he needs, at least not

Barry must
know this is a Province in which the media is fixated on road-kill and weather.  Though his early missteps may have given reporters
fuel to deride him and pan his press releases it is, nevertheless, up to him to
figure out a way to be heard – even if he has to get Cecil Hare and Ryan
Snodden banished to same place Kathy Dunderdale is holding up.

renderings, especially on the fiscal position of the Province, reflect a level
of knowledge that one might expect from a serious leadership aspirant.  They reveal concerns about our massive
spending increases, expansion of the bureaucracy of government and an over
reliance on oil revenues.  He rightly
notes the price of oil is difficult to predict, and acknowledges the trend has a
downward bias, suggesting change is needed in our fiscal decisions. 

Barry warns
of the risk of a price decline occurring as this Province’s need for capital
continues to ramp up, especially for the Muskrat Falls Project.

If Frank
Coleman is insistent that everything is fine and we just need to do more of what the
Tories have already done, we will be denied any ideas he might have. We will
possess only his assurance the Province is in for a glorious future. 

Coleman is taking a different approach. Perhaps he believes the delegate selection
process has little to do with policy.     

Even if this
is true (and I don’t think it is), it is no excuse for poor organization. 

To be fair,
the task facing Coleman and Barry is daunting. 
It is fraught with personal risk and challenge.  It should be. 
No free pass should be afforded anyone seeking the job of the Province’s
First Minister.     

Both men
would do well to read Nalcor Board Chairman, Ken Marshall’s letter to the Weekend Telegram.  Marshall confirms, in
full public view, that the arrogance and frequent displays of ignorance
exhibited during the Dunderdale period, were not her exclusive purview. That
Premier Tom Marshall has not already put him in his place is a manifestation
that nothing about this Government, attitudinally or otherwise, has changed.  

That said, I
wonder what Frank Coleman and Bill Barry think about Ken Marshall’s
comments?  Do they also see him as a Neanderthal
playing defense for Ed Martin when the public is tired of excuses for Nalcor’s
secrecy? (More on this subject, Thursday.)

Likely the
public are not even watching, having tuned out sometime ago.

This is
exactly why the P.C Leadership contest is so important.  If they can’t win the public’s focus now,
when do they hope to begin? 

The two
Candidates need to dust off those manuals on how to sell a better widget.

the public may not even know when the Race is over.
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 one point you were wrong on is that the people do want to hear from their "Danny" messiah. They could care less what anyone has to say. The voter turnout numbers are a great indication of how much Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have distanced themselves from the political culture in the province. Everybody knows that the tide will likely turn to red from blue no matter who wins the PC leadership. They also know its just garbage out-garbage in with another businessman premier who has no real vision for the future and is totally out of touch with the common man. We need real change and vision in this crucial point in time for the province but unfortunately we don't seem to have anybody in the running that fits the bill