Newfoundland NDP leader Jack Harris is calling it a day after 15 years in the legislature. Although the CBC story doesn't say it, VOCM is reporting that he will not run in the 2007 general election.
Harris is saying its time for some new leadership with the NDP. I can't help but think that 17 years in the House of Assembly, 15 of them spent banging his head against the wall as leader of the NDP, might have also contributed. Plus, he'll be 59 by the time the next election rolls around and he does have young children, all of which I'm sure were factors.
I've met and interviewed Harris numerous times. He's a heck of a nice man. Intelligent and cares a lot about the people of the province. I'm not sure if I would have ever wanted the NDP to run the province, but I would have liked to have seen Harris had a chance to influence policy more. I'm not sure how he would have done on economics, but I think his social policies would have made things better for people.
Meanwhile, Liam struggles mightly to do that whole "be polite as your foe retires from the field" thing, which is to say, be nice but only kinda-sorta mean it. In reality, he must be dancing a jig. He lives in Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, Harris district. If Harris stuck around for 2007 election, odds are he would have won. Harris wins the seat every time not because people there love the NDP; he wins it because they love him. With him not running in 2007, and with the demographics shift in the district the past decade, the NDP will struggle hard to keep it.
Which is a pity. This isn't a pro-NDP rant. I find their economic policies kind of wonky. But I just think it's bad for St. John's if there isn't so much as a single opposition MHA in the city, which is quite possible after 2007. Right now Harris is the only one. So if you have problem in St. John's that requires provincial government help, and the Tory MHAs aren't proving useful, then Harris is your only option.
The city really doesn't need another Tory backbencher. They're about as useful as the Maytag repairman. I recall one rural MHA telling me (and he was a Tory) that most city MHAs wouldn't know the difference between the phone and the fire alarm because they hear both so infrequently. He was exaggerating, of course. But I bet Harris' phone rings a heck of a lot more than Bob Ridgley's.
I know his loyality to his party requires Liam to hope the Conservatives win the seat in the next election. I would hope the he would realize that a St. John's with nothing but Conservative MHAs would not be a good thing.
Oh, and as for who the next leader will be, I think Randy Collins is a fairly safe bet.
Last 5 on iPod
1. Losing California - Sloan (A-Sides Win)
2. Tunnel of love - Dire Straits (Very Best of...)
3. Jenni's song - Matthew Good Band (Beautiful Midnight)
4. Naked - The Trews (Den of Thieves)
5. The impression that I get - Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Let's Face It)