Nfld. & Labrador

Defeated MP Manning lands Senate seat

Fabian Manning, a Conservative defeated just two months ago in the federal election, was appointed Monday to the Senate.

Fabian Manning, a Conservative defeated just two months ago in the federal election, was appointed Monday to the Senate.

Manning is one of 18 appointees that Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced for the upper chamber. Other high-profile appointees include CTV broadcaster Mike Duffy, Olympic skiing champion Nancy Greene Raine and former broadcaster Pamela Wallin.

Manning, 44, lost a bid for re-election in Avalon riding, and was unable to push back against the "anything but Conservative" campaign that Premier Danny Williams waged against Harper and the federal Conservatives.

Manning and Williams have clashed several times in recent years, starting with Manning's expulsion from the provincial Progressive Conservative caucus in 2005 after Manning spoke out publicly against his own government's fisheries policy.

He was first elected to the House of Commons in 2006.

During the most recent federal election campaign, Harper's only campaign appearance in Newfoundland and Labrador was in Manning's largely rural riding.

Manning was not available for comment Monday, although he has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday.

Jack Harris, the New Democrat MP for St. John's East, said he was surprised that Harper — an advocate of an elected Senate — would install a failed candidate so soon after an election.

"To appoint someone to the Senate who was just defeated in an election seems to me to be a pretty undemocratic statement," Harris said.

Manning had frequently been touted as a potential cabinet minister in a Conservative government — at least until the ABC juggernaut saw the party lose its three seats.

Close to Harper

David Cochrane, legislative reporter for CBC News in St. John's, said the appointment shows Manning enjoys a close relationship with Harper.

"Manning really took the brunt and suffered the consequences of the ABC campaign, perhaps more than any of the incumbent Conservatives in the last election, because [fellow MPs] Loyola Hearn and Norm Doyle both retired right before the election," Cochrane said.

"Manning is the guy whose career was cut short, whose income was cut off, and whose options were really reduced by that political defeat, and I guess in some ways this is a reward and a payback for staying loyal to the prime minister throughout the whole ABC campaign, and fighting the good fight, at least from the federal Conservatives' perspective."

Williams did not comment on Manning's appointment, but an official said the premier wishes Manning "all the best in his new role."

Manning made his debut in elected politics in 1993, representing a southern Avalon Peninsula district in the house of assembly. He was defeated in 1996, but was re-elected in 1999.

After the Progressive Conservative caucus expelled him in 2005, Manning sat as an independent PC.