Coleman’s journey to the Premier’s Office is off the rails.

It is not due
to Bill Barry’s decision to exit the Race. 

Nor is it
due to the widespread bewilderment over Coleman’s acknowledged “pro-life” stand
on the abortion issue; though it, too, is a part of this narrative.

It is not entirely
due to Political Science Professor Steve Tomlin’s comments which characterize
Mr. Coleman’s “Coronation” as a “train-wreck”; though his metaphor contains precision
so striking you could actually see the body politic nod in agreement.   

Nor is it
entirely because Coleman chose the last minute to enter the race and then disappear,
leaving a perception that he plans to be a political hermit, determined to keep
his distance, which The Telegram rightly described as “arm’s length”.  

For all of
those reasons, and then some, as far as the act of becoming Premier is
concerned, Frank Coleman is dead on arrival.

more than any other field, requires two-way communication; it is a great public
enterprise in which policies, views, priorities and, most of all, feelings are
exchanged in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. 

This should
be a time of congratulations and best wishes, but it isn’t.  

The public
are unamused that an unelected, one awarded a “fix”, given privilege by a self-interested
former Premier, is about to be given keys to the Government.  They are rightly insulted that they, and
their precious democratic institutions, are taken for granted.

By any
measure, Coleman’s Candidacy has been a disappointment. 

His actions,
or lack thereof, do not depict the image of one who is confident. They are not
the deeds of one immersed in the issues and ready, with both personality and
plan, to reverse the grim fortunes of a Party entering a fourth year of bad Polls.

Why would
Frank Coleman become Premier?  On what
basis might he feel deserving of the Province’s highest office?    

Given his
poor performance, I would not be surprised if, any minute, he informed us he is
no longer interested in being sworn in as the Province’s First Minister.

Let’s look
at the inscrutable facts.

Mr. Coleman
is uncomfortable and quite possibly ill-suited to the job. 

He is
unable or unwilling to meet the demands of modern politics which minimally require
frequent availability and extemporaneous or unscripted dialogue.

Five weeks
into the Campaign, he is still a stranger to an electorate which finds making
friends as easy as pouring a cup of tea. 

His unavailability
has ceased being a novelty; he is a hermit within a global village replete with
social media of which he wants no part.

Having just
rid ourselves of one Premier, who was manifestly incomprehensible, must we now
endure another who has nothing to say?

To be fair,
Frank Coleman is not the first leadership contender to have arrived without a
list of priorities, or who dithered over his decision.   

But, Mr.
Coleman is an entrepreneur of some repute; he is educated, business savvy and presumably
ambitious.  He must have begun, long
before now, to recognize the minefield of troublesome public policy issues that
lie in wait. 

He seems
eminently capable of communicating his views on the rights of women.  He has gone beyond their mere subscription as
a matter of personal religious viewpoint. 
He even deems it necessary to annually march in the street such is his vigorous
opposition to a policy confirmed by our highest Court, respectful to that
gender, and very hard won.

As to other
matters of social or economic policy, he is uninformed.

politics is not just about policy; it is about perception and the ability to at
least demonstrate that you actually want the job.

A Premier-in-waiting,
even one confirmed by default, should be chomping at the bit to take the reins
of power. 

with energy and inspired by the challenge he might have been expected, within
hours of Bill Barry’s withdrawal, to have demanded that the P.C Party confirm his

A flurry of
activity, speech-making, media reports and social media analysis that normally accompany
such an event might be expected to infect a whole populace.

A simple note
is sent to the Lieutenant Governor who will comply.

The new
Leader’s impatience is palpable.  

He is ready
to right a Tory Government ship-wrecked.

What is Mr.
Coleman found doing? He is sitting on his hands. 

For a
concerned public, the prospect of his becoming Premier possesses all the
excitement of another damp, cold day.

His visits to
rural communities are interrupted with business meetings on the mainland. 

He is
content to wait, not for a respectable week or two but for over two months,
until July 5th while a lame duck Premier Tom Marshall engages in
meaningless drivel and Ed Martin counts the billions Nalcor is over-budget on
Muskrat Falls. 

Coleman is
not ready.  It is far from certain he
even wants the job.

The members
of the Tory Caucus must be beside themselves; many relied on Danny Williams’ assurance
that their political careers could ride on expectations of Coleman’s
performance.  As it stands, more Caucus defections
are likely.

Mr. Coleman
must know by now, amidst all the ‘to and fro’ of his decision to seek the Tory
Leadership , lies a land mine of missed opportunity.  It is of his own making even if Danny
Williams is implicated, too. 

subversion of the democratic process is a perilous path. It has denied the
Province, for a second time, a more skilful political leader even if exactly who
is uncertain.   

disillusioned public wants more than Mr. Coleman has to offer. 

At least that
message is clear.

Likely, it
is one not lost on him. 

He can head
to the Premier’s Office if he wishes.  My
expectation is that he won’t.

Perhaps it
doesn’t matter.  Frank Coleman is already
DOA – dead on arrival.      
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?