Nfld. & Labrador

Beware of new premiers wielding chequebooks: prof

A Memorial University political scientist says his greatest worry about the aftermath of the PC convention is a new premier who will use money to woo disillusioned voters.

Steve Tomblin: 'I don't think the status quo is likely to sell to the public'

Steve Tomblin says he is concerned that the winner of the PC leadership convention will use expensive spending decisions to bolster support in the next election. (CBC)

A Memorial University political scientist says his greatest worry about the aftermath of this weekend's Progressive Conservative convention is a new premier who will use the government treasury to woo disillusioned voters.

"We have politicians who are now in positions of power who are really kind of desperate to mobilize public opinion," said Steve Tomblin, a veteran observer of politics in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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PC delegates will choose a new leader from among former cabinet ministers Paul Davis, Steve Kent and John Ottenheimer.

Making decisions based on politics or based on evidence, or what's in the public interest, are two different things- Steve Tomblin

The Tories have been trailing in public opinion polls for more than a year, and the most recent poll shows that the Opposition Liberals continue to make gains at the expense of the Tories.

Tomblin said those factors could lead the winner of the leadership race to make big-ticket spending commitments aimed at increasing support for the governing Tories.

"I don't think the status quo is likely to sell to the public," Tomblin said in an interview. "My sense is that they need to be very careful."

Tomblin said he is worried about decisions that could be made in the coming months that carry price-tags that will be borne for years to come.

"Making decisions based on politics or based on evidence, or what's in the public interest, are two different things," he said.

"I have concerns about what they are actually going to be doing — not just talking about public policy, but actually making a lot of investments that will be inherited by whoever becomes the next premier."

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