Who is your MHA back­ing?

Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia has sup­port for all three PC can­di­dates

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER AND MELISSA JENK­INS

For those fol­low­ing the PC lead­er­ship race, three po­lit­i­cally ex­pe­ri­enced can­di­dates have shown it is any­one’s race.

Steve Kent, Paul Davis and John Ot­ten­heimer have been trav­el­ling the province, seek­ing sup­port to be the next leader of New­found­land and Labrador, and it’s fair to say each has a strong fol­low­ing.

Closer to home, res­i­dents in the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia re­gion are cu­ri­ous whom their lo­cal MHAs are sup­port­ing.

The re­gion is di­vided into six elec­toral dis­tricts — Har­bour Main, Port de Grave, Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace, Belle­vue, Pla­cen­tia-St. Mary’s and Trin­ity-Bay de Verde. The Tories hold five of those six seats. With five dif­fer­ent mem­bers does it mean five dif­fer­ent opin­ions on who should be the province’s next pre­mier?

Coin­ci­dently, it does.

Fi­nance min­is­ter un­de­cided

One of the high­est pro­file MHAs in the province, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Char­lene John­son, holds the seat for Trin­ity-Bay de Verde.

John­son has not pub­licly sup­ported a can­di­date, but told The Com­pass she is al­most ready to pull the trig­ger.

“Truth­fully, I haven’t made up my mind yet,” she said. “I am im­pressed by all three can­di­dates.”

John­son has had the op­por­tu­nity to work with all three dur­ing her time in of­fice. Ot­ten­heimer was a mem­ber of the PC cau­cus when she was first elected in 2003. But she ex­plained Kent and Davis have been great in their port­fo­lios, and would also make good lead­ers.

John­son is ex­pected to an­nounce her de­ci­sion in the com­ing weeks.

Pick­ing Paul

Port de Grave MHA Glenn Lit­tle­john be­lieves Top­sail MHA Paul Davis is the best man for the job.

“(Davis) is the best person to be the next pre­mier of New­found­land and Labrador and the best person to lead us into the fu­ture,” he said.

Prior to spend­ing time in provin­cial pol­i­tics to­gether, Lit­tle­john and Davis were each mem­bers of their re­spec­tive mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils.

Lit­tle­john lauded Davis’ skills as a com­mu­ni­ca­tor and his work ethic.

“(Paul) has a good way of get­ting his mes­sage across. He works ex­tremely hard and I just be­lieve he is the best man for the job,” he said.

Davis has ties to the Port de Grave district. His wife is from the Bay Roberts area.

John is the man

Mean­while, Har­bour Main MHA Tom Hed­der­son has placed his faith in for­mer cabi­net min­is­ter and col­league John Ot­ten­heimer.

“(Ot­ten­heimer) is the man who is go­ing to be able to do it in 2015, there is no doubt about it,” said Hed­der­son.

Ot­ten­heimer is a con­stituent of Hed­der­son’s, as well as a mem­ber of Hed­der­son’s fam­ily through mar­riage.

“(Ot­ten­heimer) is well-ed­u­cated, well-ex­pe­ri­ence. He’s got a good way with peo­ple and he has a vi­sion as to where we, as a peo­ple, need to go at this par­tic­u­lar time,” said Hed­der­son.

Se­lect­ing Steve

Pla­cen­tia-St. Mary’s MHA Felix Collins has thrown his sup­port be­hind the youngest can­di­date, Steve Kent.

Although Kent has been a mem­ber of the PC cau­cus since 2007, he has the least ex­pe­ri­ence in cabi­net, be­ing named in Oc­to­ber 2013 by for­mer pre­mier Kathy Dun­derdale.

“At this stage in the game, my fi­nal de­ci­sion is to sup­port Steve,” Collins ex­plained. “I’ve seen Steve in ac­tion, es­pe­cially this past year. He’s young, en­er­getic and proac­tive.”

Collins said he was im­pressed with is Kent’s abil­ity to con­nect with the pub­lic through so­cial me­dia. He said it gives him a leg up to the younger gen­er­a­tion, and also keeps him in con­tact with those out­side the greater St. John’s area.

Although Collins sup­ports Kent, he does be­lieve it’s a tight com­pe­ti­tion.

“Right now, it’s a three horse race, and I’d like to see it stay that way,” he said.

Collins has al­ready an­nounced he will not run in 2015, and plans to take some time off af­ter three ca­reers — he was an ed­u­ca­tor for 30 years, prac­ticed law for 12 and has a decade in pol­i­tics.

Peach sup­ports Kent

At­tempts by The Com­pass to reach Belle­vue MHA Calvin Peach were un­suc­cess­ful.

In an on­line pub­li­ca­tion by CBC, Peach is said to have thrown his sup­port be­hind Steve Kent.

This is the sec­ond at­tempt at find­ing a leader for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives. The pre­vi­ous nom­i­na­tions ear­lier this year brought out three can­di­dates — Bill Barry, Frank Cole­man and Wayne Ben­nett.

The nom­i­na­tion process be­gan again af­ter the bal­lot was cleared with two can­di­dates step­ping away and one be­ing re­moved from the race.

The re­vival of in­ter­est in the party’s lead­er­ship has some peo­ple in­ter­ested in see­ing what the party will of­fer af­ter the leader is cho­sen, while oth­ers ques­tion if that will be enough to hold on as govern­ment in 2015.

The de­ci­sion will be made at the PC con­ven­tion in St. John’s Sept. 12-13.

Mean­while, who­ever the fu­ture leader may be, they are said to have an up­hill bat­tle ahead if they want to en­sure a Tory vic­tory in the next provin­cial elec­tion.

Pub­lic opinion does not favour the Con­ser­va­tives, with Dwight Ball’s Lib­eral party jump­ing ahead in the lat­est polls.

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