© Cory Hurley
Premier Tom Marshall is seen in his office at the Sir Richard Squires Building during an interview with The Western Star on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014.
Tom Marshall will not endorse a specific leadership candidate to succeed him as premier. If it’s Paul Davis, Steve Kent or John Ottenheimer, however, he says the party is poised to continue overcoming its political slide and maintain power in the province.
Of course, even if that proves true, Marshall will not be part of that governing party. After three terms in office — all for the governing Progressive Conservatives and previously holding key senior minister positions — he is scheduled to retire following the election of the new leader on Sept. 13.
He laughs at the notion he is evading a sinking ship. It is time for him to retire, he says, and that he already stayed for an additional term beyond what he had planned.
He suggests the Corporate Research Associates poll in May — showing a doubling in voters satisfied with the provincial government’s performance, 32 to 64 per cent — is proof. However, more than half of the voters continue to back the Liberal party compared to 29 per cent for the PCs.
“There’s people in our cabinet that just impress the heck out of me,” Marshall said. “There are still people in our caucus that impress the heck out of me. Through this leadership convention, people are going to see.”
He says it would not be fair, as premier, to back a particular candidate for leadership.
Whoever is leader has an uphill battle to win an election. Marshall said the results of an election will be a combination of people voting for a particular party and specific candidates.
The Humber East MHA will also step aside when the new premier is ready to call a byelection. The specific dates of his retirement as premier and MHA will be determined by the new leader, he says.
His party successor in the district election has yet to be determined. He would not name anybody specifically, but said there are a number of worthy candidates. Bill Barry had planned to run, then it was going to be Frank Coleman.
Marshall described politics as a roller coaster ride, with each party having its ups and downs. The Conservative party is undergoing a rejuvenation, which he says is well underway.
If there is one wish he has for the upcoming election, it is to see more women run. He said he understands the Conservatives are now down to three serving female members, and the House of Assembly has seven.
Many people consider running for politics, but Marshall says timing is essential for a candidate to declare. He believes that is even more crucial for a woman.
“We need strong, capable women to take part, but I know how difficult it is for women to give up their jobs and give up their lives,” he said. “There are so many capable women who could do it, if they are prepared to put up with the life.”