Newfoundland and Labrador voters who turned their backs on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper in 2008 will take comfort in his platform this May, an aspiring candidate said Wednesday.
John Ottenheimer, a former provincial health minister, announced he is seeking the Tory nomination in the southern Newfoundland riding of Random-Burin-St. George's, which is now represented by Liberal Judy Foote.
"There is a significant warming-up by the people of this province to Stephen Harper," Ottenheimer told CBC News, pointing to a resurgent Conservative campaign in Newfoundland and Labrador, which shut out Tory candidates in the 2008 election.
Ottenheimer, who has resigned as chair of the board of Crown-owned Nalcor, said the "anything but Conservative" campaign that Danny Williams waged is no longer a factor.
"That's the past," he said. "That's history … I believe that's where most thinking Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are."
Provincial Tories make leap
Ottenheimer is one of several former provincial Tories who are seeking office in the May 2 election. Fabian Manning resigned his seat in the Senate Monday to seek the nomination in Avalon, while former provincial fisheries minister Loyola Sullivan quit as Canada's fisheries ambassador for a run in St. John's South-Mount Pearl.
Meanwhile, former provincial cabinet minister Trevor Taylor confirmed to CBC News Wednesday that he is giving serious consideration to a run in Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, which covers most of Newfoundland's west coast.
"I left for personal reasons, and it's a very personal decision. For those who haven't been in politics, they might not appreciate what people go through," Taylor said.
"I just want to make sure that the fire is burning at 110 per cent in the gut, not just from acid reflux."
Taylor said he would make a decision by Thursday, a day before he is scheduled to emcee a Progressive Conservative convention that will officially mark Kathy Dunderdale as the new leader of the party.
Dunderdale was sworn in as premier in December, as soon as Danny Williams resigned from public life.
In an interview, Ottenheimer credited Dunderdale with bringing the federal Conservatives and the provincial Progressive Conservatives closer together, and with fostering a climate that is seeing more Tories return to campaign offices.
While the ABC campaign was founded on allegations that Harper cannot be trusted, Ottenheimer said he is more concerned about how the government has weathered the international financial crisis.
"The Harper government has shown in the past, particularly in the recent past, that [Harper] is a good manager," he said.
"I have no difficulty whatsoever in putting myself forward as a candidate with [the] knowledge that they are good money managers."