There never seems to be a right time to leave politics. Regardless of the length of the tenure a politician has been serving, the political climate of the day or struggles from a change in party leadership, the electorate doesn’t take long making up its mind as to why the member quits.
Monday’s resignation by Joan Shea as the Environment Minister and MHA for St. George's-Stephenville East came about as somewhat of a surprise for folks living on the west coast. Shea was seen as one of the heavy hitters in cabinet and senior politicians among provincial ranks. This reputation sustained even after the resignation of former premier, Kathy Dunderdale, whose influence has been underdoing a curse from the local party faithful.
Shea persevered. She was seen as a strong district voice despite not always being popular with the constituents she served. She also appeared to have plenty of political fight left.
The news came swift that Shea was done, albeit it was short on answers.
“When you start to feel tired it’s time to step down and let others step up,” Shea said during the announcement.
Fact is, there aren’t many stepping up to wear the Tory blue these days and we’ll likely see many more stepping down.
The abandonment of any party at its weak point is nothing new to politics.
The struggles under premier-designate Frank Coleman have yet to go away, despite his tenacity to carry on. The swell of the Liberals is also a trend the ruling Tories have also caused difficulty for the governing Tories. The list of reasons is abundant.
Shea knows why she’s leaving now, but the list of factors leading to her departure won’t likely be known any time soon.
Regardless of her stature within the party, it leaves the Progressive Conservatives with a void to fill and another uphill climb to the next byelection. This one, likely to take place immediately following the PC leadership convention, will likely foreshadow the next provincial election, regardless of how party’s pitching its result will feel when the votes start coming in.