20 December 2010

Williams’ abrupt departure “shocking”: Dunderdale

From the Friday Telegram;
“The premier leaving was shocking to me,” said [Premier Kathy] Dunderdale. “My first thought was how are we going to do as a government, as a caucus.” [Telegram editorial insertion removed from quote]
That pretty much says it like it is:  Williams’s departure was unexpected.

In her former role as Williams’ deputy premier, Dunderdale ought to have been intimately aware of any major  developments such as Williams’ departure. She likely wouldn’t have been alone. 

And given that Williams had talked on several occasions about when he might leave politics, the party should have been prepared.

Apparently, they weren’t and the result is that the party is scrambling.

You can tell that the party leadership is confused and scrambling by two factors:

First, there are no declared contenders, let alone leading ones.  The one heir apparent – Jerome Kennedy – is reportedly dropping out and may well leave politics altogether. Other than that, no names have bobbed to the surface two weeks after Danny Williams left office and three weeks after he announced his departure.

Second,  the party hasn’t announced a process by which the party will select a new leader.

What’s been happening for the past week is a great deal of speculation about all sorts of prospective candidates, but none it involves serious contenders.

So empty is the field of people even taking a gawk that news media have reported that Kathy Dunderdale is not running, running and then not running again for the leadership all within a 24 hour period. 

CBC ran a story on Thursday that featured Dunderdale saying she would not be running. The Telegram story linked above put it this way: “But Dunderdale said she may rethink that decision because of the support she’s getting to stay on.”  The title of the story is “Dunderdale may reconsider running for premier full-time,”  as if she was working part-time now.  A day later, VOCM ran this story:
Dunderdale still not considering running for leadership 
The Premier says she's not reconsidering a bid at the leadership of the Progressive-Conservative Party, despite her success in the last two weeks in ending some long-standing disputes. Kathy Dunderdale says she's focused on governance, not a leadership race.
Dunderdale says it hasn't been part of her consideration in terms of anything she's done in the last two weeks. She says she hasn't thought about it or changed her mind, but she says it's a business where you can never say never.
While Dunderdale is obviously not interested in taking the Premier’s job beyond the caretaker role she’s already accepted, take a look at the rest of her comment to the Telly:
There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on me to reconsider…
NTV’s Michael Connors reported on Friday that there is apparently concern in the Conservative caucus that they not have a divisive leadership along the lines of the Liberal one in 2001.  That comment has been floating around the legislature for the past few days.

Taken together with the absence of any declared candidates, Connors’ report suggests that some party insiders may be trying to engineer someone into the job without a leadership race at all. Bear in mind that the party hasn’t decided on a process – convention or telephone voting – let alone even opened nominations yet.

It’s not like time is on their side what with by-election (s), budgets and then a fixed date for the next general election.

Seems that’s another Christmas present Danny Williams left to the provincial Conservatives right alongside the current leadership scramble and the Muskrat Falls bomb.

- srbp -