If there were ever any doubts about whether the Progressive Conservative Party wanted to avoid a leadership contest this year, they’ve since been cast aside following the curious case of Brad Cabana.
However, the allegations made by Cabana that the executive assistant of Ross Wiseman, who was installed last week as the province’s new environment and conservation minister, threatened him are an unexpected twist.
To call Cabana a long shot when it comes to running for the party’s leadership might be giving him more credit than he deserves. Having lived in the province for what appears to be little over a year in both Glovertown and Hickman’s Harbour, his ties to Newfoundland and Labrador are slight.
According to Cabana, Chick Cholock threatened him with “personal destruction” and suggested his marriage would end in divorce when he visited Cabana at his home on Jan. 5. He claimed his wife was also a witness to this.
“ In an ideal world there will not be a leadership challenge ( that always hurts the party for years.” Those words, written by Cholock in an e-mail sent Dec. 30 to Cabana, hint at the party’s strategy for reelection. As was mentioned in a recent Compass editorial, the Progressive Conservatives apparently wants to show a united front.
“ We can’t risk all (Danny Williams) worked for by having a divisive leadership squabble at this stage and making it easier for the opposition to win more seats and shudder to think, form the government in October,” Cholock later writes in the e-mail, which Cabana shared with The Telegram last week.
Wiseman, the MHA for Cabana’s home district, told media that if Cholock did say anything inappropriate in their private meeting, it was as a private citizen and not as a party representative.
That is a fair statement to make. However, Wiseman himself referred to Cabana’s candidacy as a “waste of time.” That’s a harsh thing to say regarding a democratic process where candidates are supposedly encouraged to step forward.
The call for nominations was made on Dec. 30, with Jan. 10 as the deadline to file papers. That gave potential candidates a very short time frame to work with, especially given there was a long weekend on the horizon.
Would Cabana ever have a shot at winning? It’s highly doubtful. But all candidates should be given a fair chance, and with all that’s gone on in the last week, it’s not entirely clear whether the Progressive Conservatives have done so here.