Nfld. & Labrador

Bill Barry to run for leadership of provincial PC party

Bill Barry has announced he will be running for leader of Progressive Conservative Party in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Bill Barry announced Wednesday his intention to run for the position of P.C. party leader. (CBC)

Bill Barry has announced he will be running for leader of Progressive Conservative Party in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The businessman made it official at a news conference on Wednesday.

With the Beatles track 'Revolution' playing in the background, Barry entered the Greenwood Inn in Corner Brook to make the announcement.  

In front of his family, supporters and the media, Barry dropped two highly-debated issues in the province into the middle of his campaign.

He told the packed audience the government's controversial Bill 29 was "the most undemocratic thing" he's ever seen. The bill was introduced in 2012 and gives government increased powers in determining what information can be withheld from the public. 

Speaking with On the Go host Ted Blades Wednesday afternoon, Barry said what the province needs is more openness and debate.

"We deserve reasonable access to the information that we should know as taxpayers to determine if our government is really representing us well," he said.

Barry has been critical of Bill 29 which gives the government increased powers in withholding information.
Barry also suggested that more questions need to be asked about Muskrat Falls. 

"Whoever's in charge in the premier's office needs to know the ramifications of the whole deal, and how the province is exposed to."

Barry is the first candidate to enter the Tory leadership race, and he's promising to offer a different kind of campaign for the premier's job.

A Facebook event created for Barry's afternoon launch describes his campaign as a "game-changer" that seems poised to shake up the political direction for the governing PCs. 

"It's going to be a revolution based on transparency, democracy, environmental sustainability/protection and fiscal responsibility," the invitation states.

Barry is the chief executive officer of the Barry Group of Companies, and has been a key player in Newfoundland and Labrador's fishing industry for several decades.

He's been no stranger to controversy, having battled with union leaders. He was also part of an unsuccessful bid to take over the former Fishery Products International. 

Barry's campaign begins in the wake of Kathy Dunderdale's resignation last week.

Paul Oram considering potential run

A large number of potential candidates, both inside and outside the Tory caucus, have been weighing their options.

The most recent addition to the list is Paul Oram, a former provincial health minister who quit politics in October 2009, citing concerns with his health, and media scrutiny.

Oram told CBC News Tuesday that his blood pressure is under control and that he is serious about a potential leadership run.

Meanwhile, Paul Davis, the minister of child, youth and family services, took his name out of the running on Tuesday.

"This list of candidates is fluid, but expect it to shrink and stabilize by next week," said David Cochrane, CBC's provincial affairs reporter and host of On Point.

Details of the leadership convention are expected by Monday, following a weekend meeting of the provincial PC executive.

The convention is expected to be held in late May or June.