Nfld. & Labrador

Chris Tibbs for PC Party leader? Incumbent candidate muses about it in video, then quickly deletes it

The Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans candidate says he deleted a social media video earlier this month in which he revealed his desire to one day become PC Party leader after a friend told him it might be taken out of context.
Chris Tibbs, the incumbent PC candidate for Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans, posted a video to social media earlier this month indicating he had aspirations to one day become PC Party leader, but quickly deleted the post. (Heather Gillis/CBC)

Incumbent PC candidate Chris Tibbs says he agreed to quickly delete a social media video earlier this month in which he revealed his desire to one day become party leader after a friend told him it might be taken out of context.

His friend may have had a point, because Tibbs found himself on the defensive over the video Thursday.

"There was a 10-second blurp taken out of context of a two-minute video," said Tibbs, who was first elected as the MHA for Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans in the 2019 election, and is being challenged in the current election by Liberal Deborah Ball and the NDP's Holly Pike.

In the video, Tibbs says he has been asked if he would ever consider seeking the party's leadership.

"After much deliberation, talking to my wife and two sons, absolutely I would when my time is right," he says.

In explaining the video, Tibbs said he was motivated by his frustrations with the Liberal party. He said he wrote Liberal Leader Andrew Furey on Dec. 21 to express concerns about some issues in the Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans district.

After weeks passed without a response, Tibbs said, he recorded the video in order to talk about leadership, and how political stripe should not get in the way of getting things done.

After posting the video, he was cautioned by a friend about the reference to seeking the PC leadership, and decided to remove the post.

"The second reason I took it down was later on that day, the premier's office did get back to me with a response after over two months. And I guess the video did work because it did get a response from the premier's office," said Tibbs.

Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie would not comment directly Thursday on the video. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada)

But the optics, and timing, are hard to ignore.

Voters are still casting their ballots in what's been a chaotic and drawn-out pandemic election.

Ches Crosbie is still very much the PC Party leader, and has been campaigning hard to become premier, despite public opinion polls that suggest his own popularity is in unflattering territory.

But unlike the Liberals, who boldly plaster the "Team Furey" slogan over campaign signs, there's hardly a mention of the Crosbie name on the ubiquitous lawn signs that Tibbs and other PC candidates have spread throughout the province.

That's in stark contrast to the last provincial election, when the "Crosbie 2019" slogan was prominently displayed on signs.

These campaign signs in St. John's East-Quidi Vidi offer some insight into how the two main political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador are promoting their leaders. The Liberals prominently display the slogan 'Team Furey' on campaign signs, while there's no mention of PC Party Leader Ches Crosbie on this sign promoting candidate Vaughn Hammond. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Tibbs said he did not intend to undermine or embarrass Crosbie, and appeared to walk back his leadership ambitions when questioned Thursday.

"There's no way I'll be seeking this leadership until I learn so much more. And I have so much more to learn off of great leaders such as Ches Crosbie. And I support Ches Crosbie 100 per cent," said Tibbs.

So how does Crosbie feel about Tibbs's video?

The PC leader would not do an interview, but the party issued the following statement on his behalf:

"Chris Tibbs is a valued member of the PC caucus and has my full confidence and support. I look forward to working with him in the new PC government that I intend to lead."

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Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.


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