Nfld. & Labrador

Efford keeping keen eye on Liberal leadership

Former cabinet minister John Efford didn't hesitate Wednesday to indicate he is more than interested in taking over the reins of Newfoundland and Labrador's bedraggled Liberals.

Former cabinet minister John Efford didn't hesitate Wednesday to indicate he is more than interested in taking over the reins of Newfoundland and Labrador's bedraggled Liberals.

"I am interested, yes," Efford, who served in Liberal cabinets at both the provincial and federal levels, told CBC News.

"I will be there, helping to rebuild the Liberal party …and if and when a leadership is called, I will be interested in taking a run at it."

Liberal Leader Gerry Reid, who was defeated in the Isles of Notre Dame, said Tuesday night he has not decided on whether he will stay on as party leader.

An automatic recount will be ordered for the results in Reid's district, given Tory candidate Derrick Dalley's seven-vote margin of victory.

Only three Liberals were elected on Tuesday, making for the smallest caucus the party has ever had.

Efford retired from politics before the 2006 federal election, citing health problems, including the strain that his job as a cabinet minister had been on management of his diabetes.

However, Efford has been making noises for months about a possible comeback in provincial politics.

Efford, who narrowly lost a 2001 provincial leadership race to Roger Grimes, said many of the party's internal woes— which included trouble recruiting volunteers in many districtsand a bare-bones campaign budget — can be traced back to that bitter contest.

"Ever since the leadership, and I gotta go back to that, the party has been in dire straits," Efford said.

Efford represented Port de Grave district from 1985 to 2001. In two elections, he had the widest margin of victory in the province. Although many rank-and-file members supported him, few in the caucus and the party leadership backed his 2001 leadershipcampaign.

Efford, who is known for a volatile political style, said he is not assuming that he would be given a free ride to the leadership.

"I'm not saying what's going to happen, I said I'm going to be interested and if the people [and if] the Liberal party says, 'John, we would rather you stepped back,' I will do that," he said.

"That will be up to the people. I can't walk in and take it over."

now