CORNER BROOK In the last 25 years, Bill Barry was approached several times by both the Liberal and the Progressive Conservative parties to run for office under their respective banners.
The time was never right for the Corner Brook businessman who has grown his family’s fishing business into an international entity that employs more than 3,000 popular in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Confident his own children are now ready to take up the running of their family’s huge fishing enterprise, this just might be the right time for Barry to throw his hat into the political ring.
With the resignation of Kathy Dunderdale and the reality newly appointed Premier Tom Marshall will only be in that role until a new PC party leader is chosen, Barry said he is seriously considering a run for the Tory leadership.
“The only reason I would consider it is completely on the basis that I think I might be able to contribute something to a province that has given so much to me,” Barry told The Western Star in an interview Friday morning.
Barry said he will be taking this weekend to think about it and will let his intentions be known next week. Broadcast media in the province are reporting he will confirm his intentions to run during a Wednesday announcement.
Barry said he has always considered public life, but never followed through because the timing was never right before.
His priorities had always been growing his large family and his business.
“These things are not things that you just step away from, not knowing how secure and how safe they are,” he said.
With four of his sons and a daughter heavily involved in the family’s fishing business, Barry is finding fewer reasons to say he can’t leave the fishery for a life in politics.
“I don’t have those inhibitions on me now,” said the 61-year-old. “Five years ago, I couldn’t give it that consideration.”
In the past few days, Barry said he has received numerous emails and calls from all across the province, encouraging him to run. The prospect of becoming the Tory leader and, subsequently, the province’s 12th premier until the next election is called is not something he takes lightly.
“It’s obviously an extremely serious commitment for me,” said Barry. “What it really means to me is the rest of my best years, if I was fortunate enough to ever get the job, would be committed to the province.”
While he said it is both flattering and humbling to hear so many people urging him to take up the life of a politician, Barry said the choice comes down to a personal decision because he won’t have a go at politics apologetically.
“If I do it, I will do it with a stick in each hand,” he said with a laugh. “I won’t be easy-goesy at it.”
If he decides to run, Barry said he will do so with every intention of making “a real contribution for real change” in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It’s a compelling journey for me at the age of 61,” he said of the idea of aspiring to become the province’s leader.
*** Edited Sunday, Jan. 26 ***