Liberal leadership hopefuls on why they want the job

Seven candidates are in the running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. Many of them have made public statements about why they have decided to run.
Liberal Leadership candidate Bern Coffey speaking with reporters in his law office on August 11. CBC (CBC)

Seven candidates are in the running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. Many of them have made public statements about why they have decided to run.

Brad Cabana has been a member of the Liberal party since January. The businessman and political blogger from Random Island once tried unsuccessfully to challenge Kathy Dunderdale for leadership of the PC party. The party rejected his nomination papers.

He doesn't feel his past relationship with the PC party will hurt his chances with the Liberals.

"When I left the Conservative Party to join the Liberal Party, the Liberal Party was at 11 per cent in the polls," he said. "It wasn't an opportunistic move. It was a move based on integrity and I think the people in my party understand that."

For Cabana, the biggest issue this election is killing the Muskrat Falls deal as well as getting the province's debt under control. He plans to run for the Liberal nomination in Trinity North.

Brad Cabana, Liberal leadership hopeful.

Danny Dumaresque, the first to put his name in, is a long-time Liberal supporter and former MHA. He is focusing his efforts on the fishing industry, which he said isn't getting enough help from the government.

"...And I believe we are sending too much of our product out in its raw state and not enough in the secondary food service industry," he said.

Like Cabana, Dumaresque also feels the Muskrat Falls project should be quashed.

"The proposed Muskrat Falls deal is a bad deal for this province," he said. "It is unnecessary and too costly for this province at this time."

Rodney Martin, a St. John's real estate agent, is new to provincial politics, and said he decided to run because all of the other candidates are "typical politicians" that don't represent the common man. He has no connections to the Liberal party and calls himself a "maverick" candidate.

"My big issues is just the disconnect between the politicians and the people," he said. "It seems that there's so much focus on the large items like Muskrat Falls and the oil wells and things of that nature rather than lookin' at people's everyday needs." 

He has been involved in real estate for the past 20 years, and runs a contracting firm called Grace Developments. He once ran unsuccessfully for a seat on St. John's city council.

Ryan Lane is a former teacher, now a consultant, who admits he doesn't have much of a background in politics. He decided to run Friday morning, and said he was also looking for the Liberal nomination in the riding of Bonavista South.

For Ryan, getting in touch with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is at the top of his priority list.

"First of all, understanding the need to consult and engage local people," he said. "That's one of the things that has been sadly missing in our political structure and in our government in the last couple of terms for sure is that ability for the everyday common man to get involved in decision making."

Lawyer Bern Coffey, best known for his role in the Cameron inquiry, is serious about becoming the leader of not just the Liberal party, but also the province.

"...I'm not into this to be the leader of the opposition. I'm into this to be the premier," he said.

Like the other leadership candidates, Coffey is opposed to the Lower Churchill hydro project at Muskrat Falls, and feels that public spending at the current rate is unsustainable.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Kevin Aylward also submitted nomination papers before Friday's noon deadline. Aylward said a return to politics has been on his mind. "I said, well, it's time for me to look at a re-enter to public office," he told CBC News. "And this morning, I said 'okay, it's time to do it."

There is one other candidate declared. He is Charles Murphy, who has run for the New Democrat Party in the past.

Among the people thought to be putting their names forward, Chuck Furey is the only person to provide CBC with a written reason for not putting his name forward.

The former Liberal cabinet minister said he received hundreds of phone calls encouraging him to put his name forward, but after consulting family, friends, and long-time Liberal supporters, he decided not to seek the leadership at this time.He states he "looks forward to working with the new leader and seeing a Liberal government back in office once again."