Frank Coleman says he wants to be premier so that he can stay the course
Frank Coleman. — Telegram file photo
Coleman is widely seen as the front-runner in the PC party leadership, and the favoured choice of party insiders. And to hear him speak, if he wins, he likely won’t rock the boat too much.
“Am I excited about what’s happened in the last 10 years? I’m absolutely excited, and I don’t want to see it go sideways on us,” he said.
“I like what this government has stood for. It’s done amazing things with this economy and it has grown this economy.”
And he’s not worried that his total lack of political experience will hurt him if he wins the PC party leadership and he ends up as premier of the province in early July.
“On the eve of having my very first child, I didn’t know what it was like to be a dad, either,” he said Friday.
“It’s going to be a learning curve, but I think I can handle it.”
Asked about government secrecy concerns, Coleman acknowledged that people aren’t entirely happy, but he said that interim Premier Tom Marshall is already doing a good job of turning things around.
“I think that the Progressive Conservative party have been a very busy, very productive and an extremely engaged party, but I think that constituents of Newfoundland and Labrador really want to have a number of issues addressed that they don’t feel are getting addressed,” he said.
“When Marshall brought in the review of Bill 29, and it was generally out there that Bill 29 was considered bad, a bad piece of legislation, I think that he went at that and he said, ‘well, we’ll review it.’”
When it comes to Bill 29 specifically, Coleman committed to following the recommendations of an independent panel assigned to review the province’s access to information law, but at the same time, he said he’s not convinced Bill 29 was all bad.
“Bill 29 probably has some good elements in it, and it probably has some wrong elements in it. And I think some of the wrong elements and the way it was pushed on Newofundlanders and Labradorians was probably the wrong thing to do,” he said.
“If the panel is going to make recommendations, I certainly would be very, very inclined to accept the recommendations of that panel. Yes, absolutely.”
But the issues that Coleman really seemed to be drawn to were budgetary and economic matters.
He said he believes balanced budgets are important, and the government needs to work on managing the “pressure points” that have come as a result of prosperity.
The rising price of homes is something, for example, that he’d like to look at. The skilled-labour shortage is another issue he thinks needs some attention.
But with virtually no public profile across the province before he announced that he’d be running for the leadership, at this point maybe the most important thing is just introducing himself to people.
The Telegram asked Coleman what’s one thing about himself that he thinks everybody should know.
He took a long pause before answering, “I’m a very passionate patriot of this province and I will do everything in my power and with whatever energy I can muster to be an effective steward.
“If there was one thing that they need to know, it’s that there is not a frivolity here with respect to taking on this opportunity. I know it’s a serious game; I know it’s a serious business.”