Byrne sees advantages to running provincially

Liberal MP says he won’t run against Coleman in Humber East byelection

Diane Crocker
Published on May 6, 2014
Gerry Byrne

Gerry Byrne says he definitely won’t be running in Humber East against Frank Coleman in a byelection.

However, the Liberal MP is giving “really strong consideration to running provincially” in a Corner Brook seat in the 2015 provincial general election.

To narrow down just what district in which he’d seek the nomination, Byrne said it would be either Humber West or Humber East.

The question of whether Byrne was planning to make the switch from federal to provincial politics arose again last week after the Liberal Party of Canada announced it had concluded nominations in three Newfoundland and Labrador federal ridings.

Liberal incumbents Scott Andrews, Yvonne Jones and Scott Simms will all be on the ballot — Andrews in the new riding of Avalon, Jones in Labrador and Simms in the new riding of Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame.

When contacted to find out why his name wasn’t included in the list, Byrne said only three of the seven ridings in the province have completed the nomination process and it had nothing to do with his future plans.

“That’s not unusual at all,” he said, noting nominations will continue, not only over the course of the summer and fall, but also into the spring of 2015.

The next provincial general election is scheduled for October 2015, but Frank Coleman has to call an election within a year of taking over as premier. Coleman will be confirmed as PC leader on July 5, but has yet to say when he’ll take over.

Byrne said he’s not ready to give up on federal politics just yet.

“I’ve made a commitment to stay the course,” he said, adding he would not cause a federal byelection at a cost of about $500,000 to taxpayers.

“I really, really don’t have a strong appreciation for those that jump in and out of politics or political office for their own convenience or for their own ambitions,” he said.

“If you’re going to sign up for something, sign up for it and stick with it.”

So why make the switch from federal to provincial politics?

“It’s about how do you effect positive change for your constituents?”

He said there are some serious issues at the local level — the new hospital in Corner Brook, the economy of western Newfoundland — that he feels there has been no strong representation on coming from the current provincial Progressive Conservatives.

And he said the provincial PC adminstration has also decided not to engage in any federal issues such as Marine Atlantic and the Qalipu enrolment process.

“I don’t see this necessarily as being a move from federal politics to provincial politics as leaving behind the issues that are so important to me.”

In fact, he said it’s the opposite.

“Until we get a government in Confederation Building in St. John’s that is actually prepared to stand up and speak to these incredible concerns the people of western Newfoundland have, we will not be getting very far.”

Byrne said if he makes the transition to provincial politics he would be a member of the Liberal team lead by Dwight Ball and could help make a productive bridge between a Liberal government in Newfoundland and Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals.