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Frank Coleman says he has some business decisions to make and family discussions to hold before he throws his name in the mix for leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative party.
The 60-year-old Corner Brook businessman confirmed for The Western Star Wednesday that he is indeed giving the idea of seeking the leadership position some serious consideration.
“It depends on me having a fairly robust discussion with my partners in the businesses that I am involved in about if I do make a run at this and I need to have a good discussion with my family,” Coleman said in a phone interview.
Those business and family conversations are not just perfunctory, said the president and chief executive officer of the Coleman Group of Companies, which owns grocery and furniture stores across Newfoundland and Labrador and owns and operates Humber Valley Paving Ltd. in Corner Brook.
“I am heavily involved (in the business) and there is a bunch of things we’re in the middle of and we are trying to work our way through,” he said.
Coleman said he has had people encourage him to run for public office in the past, but he has never entertained it seriously until recently.
“I never really listened to those voices a whole lot but, in recent months, I have been giving it a bit more thought,” said Coleman. “Public life is not something that I am afraid of. I would be happy to give some of my time back in the service of our province.”
Coleman wants to give himself another 10 to 14 days before deciding if he will go for it or not.
“There is a bunch of things I’m working through,” he said. “If they transpire the way I hope they do, great. If they don’t, it will be somebody else’s mantle, not mine.”
If he decides to seek the leadership, Coleman will be the second prominent Corner Brook businessman in the running. Bill Barry, the owner of the Barry Group of Companies, has already said he wants the top Tory job too.
In fact, Barry is the only confirmed candidate, even though the PC party has yet to announce the guidelines for its leadership selection.
The job became available when former premier Kathy Dunderdale unexpectedly announced last month she was stepping down. Interim Premier Tom Marshall has indicated he will not be running in the next general election and was only interested in serving as premier until a new leader is selected.
Of course, there is more than just the PC leadership at stake. Whoever wins the leadership race will become the next premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. They would also have to go to the polls in a general election within less than a year if they wanted to stay in the premier’s office.
Coleman has known Barry for a long time and wished him well in his leadership aspirations.
“It is a contest so, if I was going to enter a contest, I would enter it to succeed and I’m sure (Barry) will as well,” said Coleman. “He is a very capable candidate.”
Coleman said he is interested in seeing Newfoundland and Labrador succeed and that’s why he would want to become premier.
“I think I would be able to bring a certain level of leadership to that task,” he said. “If I didn’t think it, I wouldn’t be considering this.”