Lib­eral con­ven­tion

Premier happy with lead­er­ship review vote.

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Front Page - BY ASH­LEY FITZ­PATRICK

Be­fore the close out of the New­found­land and Labrador Lib­eral con­ven­tion in Gan­der, Dwight Ball was at the podium, giv­ing his prom­ise to lead the party to a win in the 2019 provin­cial elec­tion.

There was clap­ping. The cheers erupted in the room: “Dwight! Dwight! Dwight!”

Be­fore the event, the premier com­mit­ted the party would emerge united and en­er­gized, un­der his lead­er­ship. And no pub­lic chal­lenge did emerge — with del­e­gates vot­ing 79 per cent in favour of specif­i­cally not go­ing down the road of a lead­er­ship chal­lenge.

“It’s a good num­ber (79 per cent). It’s a big en­dorse­ment,” Ball said, speak­ing with re­porters at the tail end of the Premier’s Ban­quet Satur­day night, a few hours af­ter the re­sults of the vote were an­nounced.

“And we’re in great shape fi­nan­cially and our district as­so­ci­a­tions are in great shape. So I’m look­ing for­ward, as I said, to get­ting back to work, and look­ing for­ward to 2019,” he said.

Ball is al­ready estab­lish­ing the early party lines.

Dur­ing the week­end, he re­peat­edly de­scribed the prov­ince’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives as “the party re­spon­si­ble for the Muskrat Falls” hy­dro­elec­tric project and more gen­er­ally the “foxes” who can’t be al­lowed to again “guard the hen­house” of the pub­lic in­ter­est.

Fi­nan­cial position, pol­icy po­si­tions

In terms of Lib­eral fi­nances, long­time party trea­surer Glenn Barnes re­ported the Lib­er­als are out of debt and on the way to a goal of $2.4 mil­lion in the bank by 2023.

The party was once al­most bank­rupt, he ac­knowl­edged, with about $855,000 in debt roughly five years ago.

The plan right now, he said, is to raise at least $500,000 be­tween the week­end con­ven­tion and the elec­tion in Novem­ber 2019.

“These goals are re­al­is­tic. These goals are achiev­able,” he told the gath­er­ing.

Ball told re­porters the party’s fundrais­ing goals will not af­fect any review of elec­toral fi­nanc­ing as part of a larger look at demo­cratic re­form, un­der an all-party com­mit­tee.

The con­ven­tion also es­tab­lished new pol­icy for the party.

Among other things, the party voted in favour of: call­ing

on gov­ern­ment to sup­port the open­ing of new ru­ral devel­op­ment of­fices; urg­ing gov­ern­ment to de­velop a new en­ergy ef­fi­ciency pro­gram po­ten­tially in­cor­po­rat­ing the TAKECHARGE pro­gram of New­found­land Power and New­found­land and Labrador Hy­dro; and seek­ing a re­design of provin­cial sym­bols like the coat of arms, in con­sid­er­a­tion of colo­nial his­tory and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

No pres­ence for

Joyce or Kirby

For­mer NDP MHA Ge­orge Mur­phy made an ap­pear­ance at the con­ven­tion, not rul­ing out a run in 2019 un­der the Lib­eral ban­ner.

Mean­while, both MHA Eddie Joyce and MHA Dale Kirby did not par­tic­i­pate, as ex­pected. There was also no men­tion of them by name at the podium in most — if not all — con­fer­ence ses­sions (The Tele­gram was not present for all ses­sions).

There was not so much as a face in the back­ground of pho­tos in the con­ven­tion pro­gram.

Joyce and Kirby were re­moved from the Lib­eral cau­cus as in­ves­ti­ga­tions were launched into al­le­ga­tions of

ha­rass­ment and bul­ly­ing, lev­elled against the mem­bers. At the time, Ball said the move did not mean Joyce and Kirby were out for­ever.

But then, the con­ven­tion was Kirby and Joyce-washed.

“This is a Lib­eral con­ven­tion that we see right here in Gan­der. And so right now- we’ll let the process un­fold,” Ball said when asked about the is­sue.

“Keep in mind that we have done this- We didn’t sweep those is­sues un­der the rug. This party did not sweep those is­sues un­der the rug. We dealt with them proac­tively, we dealt with them swiftly. And right now, we’ll let the process un­fold and the rec­om­men­da­tions and the re­ports that will come out of that process, and then the de­ci­sion will be made of what the fu­ture is for Mr. Kirby and Mr. Joyce.”

Both Joyce and Kirby re­main mem­bers of the House of As­sem­bly and district rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

As The Tele­gram re­ported, Joyce was feted for his 25 years in pub­lic ser­vice ear­lier this month, in a cel­e­bra­tion in­clud­ing four Lib­eral MHAS.

He has more re­cently been out to visit with local iron work­ers who have been present at the new long-term care build in Cor­ner Brook. The Iron­work­ers Local 764 mem­bers say they want lo­cals to be get­ting get jobs at the site, be­fore work­ers are brought in from out­side of the prov­ince.

The work­site is not in Joyce’s district of Hum­ber-bay of Is­lands, but The West­ern Star re­ported many of the men of­fer­ing the pub­lic ob­jec­tion to the sta­tus quo are from Joyce’s area.

When asked about Joyce’s at­ten­dance at the site, the premier said there was noth­ing un­usual in Joyce stand­ing up for his con­stituents, adding the long-term care and hospi­tal con­struc­tion projects in Cor­ner Brook will serve the en­tire re­gion.

ASH­LEY FITZ­PATRICK

Premier Dwight Ball chats with peo­ple who at­tended the Lib­eral con­ven­tion in Gan­der.

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