Do honourable thing and quit seat, Tories tell Harris
Newfoundland and Labrador's governing Tories are calling on the former provincial New Democratic leader to get moving on his retirement.
Jack Harris should resign his seat quickly, to make way for a byelection in the St. John's district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, Premier Danny Williams told CBC News.
A 16-year veteran of the legislature, Harris announced in October he would retire, and the NDP picked Lorraine Michael as his successor as leader in May.
Harris, however, has yet to resign his seat. Last weekend,he joined Michael as she canvassed houses in the district.
Williams said his government has brought in a fixed election date— the next general election will be held Oct. 9, 2007— as well as tighter rules around byelections, including a limit on how long the premier can wait before a byelection is called.
"We're trying to give certainty to the process and we feel under the circumstances it's quite clear that the NDP are introducing their new candidate to that particular district, and we'd like to have equal opportunity," Williams said.
A Progressive Conservative party news release Wednesday called on Harris to make way for a byelection.
NDP president Nancy Riche is blunt in her dismissal of complaints from the Tories.
"I would say, get over it," Riche said Wednesday.
"It's a bit silly. They paid tribute to Jack in the house [before the legislature's spring session adjourned]. They know, as well as we do, that Jack will resign in the fall."
Harris said earlier this month he will resign when he completes some outstanding work, including obtaining a commitment to rebuild a school in the Virginia Park neighbourhood.
The NDP holds two of the 48 seats in the house of assembly.
Its political future is cloudy. Caucus member Randy Collins is under investigation in the legislative spending scandal that brought in police investigators.
As well,the NDP and the Liberals have both been trailing the Tories in successive public opinion polls, and political circles have been abuzz with speculation that Harris is holding on to the seat until Michael has a better chance of winning it.
Meanwhile, Riche said she is finding it ironic that the Tories have dismissed New Democrats in every other campaign, until now.
"It's delightful to see the Tories worried," she said.
"If we're just smart enough to be on top of the game then, you know, too bad, boys."