The provincial Progressive Conservative caucus has ousted outspoken MHA Fabian Manning from its ranks.
Manning – who lost his parliamentary secretary post last week after breaking ranks over provincial crab policy – says he believes he was expelled for another reason.
He said Premier Danny Williams was embarrassed about an exchange of phone calls to a VOCM Open Line program Sunday night.Manning says he was offended when he heard Williams say he had been told by Peter MacKay, deputy leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, that MacKay had had discussions with Manning about running in the next federal election.
Transcripts released by Manning show he phoned in later to say, "I cannot let a lie stand on the record." Manning said he had not spoken with MacKay since last year.
MacKay himself later phoned the program, and said he had spoken with Williams, but had not spoken with Manning about running in the election.
Manning, the MHA for Placentia & St. Mary's and a 12-year veteran of the legislature, was stripped of his duties as parliamentary secretary last week after he spoke out against the government's production quota plan for the crab industry.
FROM APRIL 28, 2005: Tory MHA knocks 'lose-lose' crab plan
Manning told a news conference Thursday that he spent three hours Wednesday night pleading for his job, but could not convince his former colleagues.
He said Williams, who is attending an oil conference in Texas, left a message for caucus members that he would not sit in the same caucus as Manning.
Manning's desk has been moved to the opposite side of the House of Assembly, near New Democrats Jack Harris and Randy Collins.
Manning says he will sit as an independent PC.
"I fought to stay … where my heart was," Manning said. "At the present time, that option is not there."
Manning, who described himself as "a Tory person since I was born" and said his family supported the party "when it was a sin to be a Tory," said he will spend the next few weeks considering his future.
Manning said he felt obligated to speak out because the plan will hurt fishermen and plant workers in his district, on the southern Avalon Peninsula.
Caucus chair Jim Hodder would not discuss details of the meeting, saying that was is said in caucus stays in caucus.
However, he said a consensus was reached to expel Manning.
"Just about a majority of caucus was there," he said, adding that the "vast majority" of those who attended supported the decision.
"It wasn't just a few."