After the shock, and through his concern for the Coleman family, it is all about tackling the latest challenge for the Conservative party president.
Cillian Sheahan said he had no inkling that Frank Coleman was resigning as premier-designate Monday. After speaking with the Corner Brook businessman man, Sheahan said he understands it was a difficult decision and he wishes him the best.
Coleman withdrew as the next Progressive Conservative leader just weeks prior to the July convention citing family issues he has to deal with as the reason. Sheahan said family comes first and hopes whatever Coleman is dealing with can be resolved favourably.
The party president said a lot has changed for the team well into planning for the leadership convention. Before a new convention date is determined he will deliberate with Premier Tom Marshall, who was expecting to resign from politics himself following the convention, and PC caucus members to plot their course of action.
The executive would then decide on a new leadership convention process — including a date for the convention, a timeline for the nomination process and a new delegate selection process.
“There’s a lot of moving parts right now, and I can’t say when it will be, but obviously the onset of summer holidays presents another challenge,” Sheahan said.
The president expects to announce further details in the coming days. He called this latest setback a challenge for the party. However, he said the executive is prepared to step up to it.
From the start, Sheahan said, the consensus among the executive was there needed to be a contested leadership race to ignite a sense of renewal for the party. The events which unfolded — Bill Barry’s withdrawal from the race — denied that opportunity. The president said it is important this new process includes a contested race.
“That would be good for the party,” he said.
There was a lot of consideration for the leadership among active ministers, before they began putting their support behind Coleman. Sheahan said there is already talk of interest again. He expects a number of people to enter the race.
“Unless you have a contested leadership convention, it’s more difficult to really experience that type of renewal,” he said. “Even if you do experience it, I think, from the public’s perception, they don’t see it as being a renewal.”
Coleman, like the governing party, took a great deal of criticism in recent months.
However, Sheahan said he is saddened that Coleman did not get the opportunity to govern this province and lead the party. The president is preparing for another onslaught of criticism pertaining to the state of the party. He said that is the nature — and correctly so — of politics. It allows people to express their views freely.
“This is just another challenge, and I think we are ready to meet it head on,” he said.
“I think we will pass that test with flying colours. I think the people of the province will be happy with the leader we choose.”