Barry calls for a democratic leadership selection process

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on June 17, 2014
Bill Barry

Bill Barry has the same message for the Conservative party following Frank Coleman’s resignation that he did the day he walked away from the leadership race.

The Corner Brook businessman withdrew from the race in April. At the time, he was leaving fellow businessman and friend Frank Coleman to assume the leadership and become the province’s next premier.

Barry believed the leadership race was pre-determined by party insiders. One-by-one, Tory ministers and MHAs announced their support of Coleman in the race. Former premier Danny Williams was highly critical of Barry and his views expressed during the campaign.

With the entire process of searching for a new leader about to reset, he was again suggesting change Monday.

“My recommendation to them — whether it means anything to anybody or not, which it probably doesn’t — would be to initiate the most open, democratic process that has ever existed in Newfoundland to elect a leader,” Barry said.

He said a ballot box should be placed in every riding and every person over 18 is eligible to vote.

He also said everybody over 18 should be encouraged to run for the job ... and without certain financial obligations.

“Let people go into that ballot box in the individual riding and select a new leader for the PC party and ultimately for the province,” he said. “Then, you have real democracy.”

He was skeptical as to whether his “grassroots” process would be considered as opposed to the “backroom dealings of power elites.”

Barry said he quit in his quest for the leadership because of the process that was in place. Coleman’s resignation brings no regrets to him. He said he has given no consideration to entering the race again. To even consider it, he said there must be an open and transparent selection process.

“If I had my time back, I would have done it in the exact same way,” he said.

His thoughts Monday on the surprise announcement were of concern for the Coleman family.