Finance minister Charlene Johnson will be leaving politics on Friday, September 5.
Under changes that Johnson and her colleagues made to the provincial election laws, that means the Premier - whoever it is at the time - will have to call a by-election no later than November 5 and have the by-election over by later than December 5.
He’ll also have to call one in the seat the current Premier Tom Marshall has said he will vacate as soon as is humanly possible after the Conservative leadership convention on the weekend of the 13th and 14th of September.
Johnson’s resignation really put the screws to her soon-to-be former colleagues. They went from having to fight one by-election – which they stand to lose unless its Ottenheimer the Premier – to having to fight two, pretty much at the same time. The problem is, the Conservatives don;t have the resources to fight two by-elections at opposite ends of the province on the same day. Unless Ottenheimer takes the leadership and runs in Humber East, the Conservatives are likely to lose both by-elections before Christmas.
So much for morale.
Meanwhile, the double by-election makes it even less likely the new Premier - whoever he is – will have a fall sitting of the House. He’s more likely to put off the sitting until the spring, then unveil a new throne speech and a budget before heading to an election, if the polls turn around. The official excuse won’t be about the by-elections: it’s more likely to be some guff about having to give the new cabinet (and an off-the-street appointee or two) the chance to come to grips with their new jobs.
Everyone will be waving to Charlene on Friday but in a few weeks time, they’ll be likely giving her back the finger she’s giving them this week, family reasons, and all.