© Cory Hurley
Premier Tom Marshall and his cabinet, including Ministers Joan Shea, Environment and Conservation, and Kevin O'Brien, Education, chat prior to meetings in Corner Brook.
CORNER BROOK By the premier‚Äôs own words, the provincial cabinet meetings in Corner Brook this week are normal cabinet business.
But it appears Tom Marshall and his ministers have a lot of things on their minds these days.
Hot topic issues in western Newfoundland, such as the new hospital in Corner Brook and the loan for Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, are making for some interesting discussions, said Marshall. He added he could not reveal what specifically was being discussed during the three days of meetings.
The premier did hint that some discussions were revolving around the budget and the upcoming legislative agenda.
There is an upcoming leadership race and a pending election in the province. Marshall will not be running again, but said his interest will not wane.
‚ÄúI think we are open about that,‚ÄĚ Marshall said during a media scrum following the funding announcement for the Corner Brook Rotary Arts Centre.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a good feeling, and we are having good discussions ... It‚Äôs going to be time for me to move on, and younger people to move up and take over. That‚Äôs the way of life, and the proper way.‚ÄĚ
Innovation, Business and Rural Development and Tourism, Culture and Recreation Minister Terry French referred to himself as a political junkie who looks forward to such times.
‚ÄúFor me, this is the highlight of it,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúYou have a leadership. You have a budget. You have a cabinet. It is all good stuff. It gets the juices flowing again, and reinvigorates the party.‚ÄĚ
As the names come foward, French said he will make a decision as to who to support.
‚ÄúI will work like the dickens to get the person I want to be the leader, the leader,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt is important we keep the party together. This is a real grassroots approach to the party.‚ÄĚ
Humber West MHA Vaughn Granter said he would take a similar approach to French. With Bill Barry already confirming he is seeking the position ‚ÄĒ and Frank Coleman and Clarence Cantwell announcing they are considering ‚ÄĒ there will be options from within the area he represents.
‚ÄúWe have had a lot of leaders of the province from the west coast,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThat is always exciting, but, at the end of the day, the premier of the province is for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, no matter what geographical location they are from.
‚ÄúIt is always exciting to have somebody from your own backyard as premier of the province. We have Premier Marshall here now, and have had premiers here before, and they were all strong people.‚ÄĚ
Marshall said the Department of Transportation has outlined the construction process for the new hospital, referring to plans for the multi-building facility with room for growth and expansion as needed.
Construction of both the long-term care facility and the hospital portion will begin in the summer of 2015, the premier said.
Marshall would not elaborate on the how a $110 million loan to Kruger for the mill in Corner Brook will be used. However, it is expected more will be revealed today when the province will make a "significant announcement" regarding Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.
"I don't want to give anything away, but if you're around here Thursday at two o'clock I might have more to say down at the mill," Marshall said.
***Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated construction of the long-term care facility would begin in the summer of 2014. This article has been edited to reflect the change.