No sooner do I go and predict a possible Liberal minority government than all hell breaks loose. That wasn't the strangest week in Newfoundland political history, but it was certainly up there high on the surreality scale.
I kept thinking that I was going to write another blog post about it during the week, but circumstances kept changing so fast I was afraid to write anything else for fear that post would quickly look antiquated. I was following CBC reporter David Cochrane and NTV reporter Mike Connors (both Muse alumni) on Twitter and there were days they couldn't keep up with the swirling rumours.
For those not following the madness, the week went something like this.
1. Rumours start on Sunday that Liberal leader Yvonne Jones might not run in the next provincial election on October 11, barely two months away. Jones had been fighting breast cancer for more than a year.
2. The rumours are quickly confirmed and on Tuesday she announces that due to medical reasons she can't run. Her immune system is too compromised and the election campaign could be harmful for her.
3. The Liberal executive announce their doing an emergency leadership race. Nominations open on Wednesday, close Friday and the executive will vote who the next leader will be on Sunday afternoon.
4. The creme de la creme of fringe candidates come out and announce they're running for the leadership, including a guy who ran for the Conservative leadership earlier the year and a guy who couldn't win his own party's riding nomination a few years ago. Things look grim.
5. Then, like the shot heard around the world, late Wednesday night it breaks that retired General Rick Hillier is considering running. It's one of those things that would have changed everything. Odds would go from a Liberal slaughter to a landslide Liberal victory. The only person more loved in the province that Williams is probably Hillier. One joke says that Dunderdale would defect to the Liberals if that happened.
6. It doesn't happen. Citing family reasons, Hillier opts not to run.
7. Gloom and despair settle on the Liberals. People I've never heard of before decide to run. A couple of former Liberal cabinet ministers from the early 00s rise like the undead and announce they're thinking of running. One, Chuck Furey decides against running. The other, Kevin Alyward, tragically decides to.
This is the list of candidates here. One is reluctant to use words such as "doomed" and "slaughter" before the actual campaign begins, but whoever wins this (Lawyer Bern Coffey is apparently the favourite) has their work seriously cut out for them. They have less than two months to rally a political party that is pretty much broke. They have to introduce themselves to a deeply skeptical public. And if it's one of the political neophytes who have never run before, they're going to have to get used to the pressures of an election campaign on short notice and try and find a seat to run in.
So seriously, good luck with that. That's a huge learning curve and amount of work to do in less than no time, with barely any resources.
I'll come out with a final seat count prediction once the election is called and we'll get an idea of how the new Liberal leader shapes up. But it's not a stretch to see the NDP taking over the role of official Opposition as of October 12. Not much of a stretch at all...
Last Five all from "Light of Endangered Species" by Matthew Good