Gerry Byrne ready to pull the trigger on provincial politics

A longtime Member of Parliament for western Newfoundland is poised to attempt a leap from federal to provincial politics.
Liberal MP Gerry Byrne has long been interested in switching to provincial politics. (CBC)

A longtime Member of Parliament for western Newfoundland is poised to attempt a leap from federal to provincial politics.

Sources say Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte MP Gerry Byrne will make an announcement Wednesday night in Corner Brook that could dramatically shake up the political scene in the region.

Byrne has served in Ottawa for 18 years, and has hinted in the past that he is interested in provincial politics.

CBC News has learned that Byrne will seek the Liberal nomination for Humber West, and will make his intentions known during a gathering at Club 64 in Corner Brook.

Byrne issued a statement last week to say he has been consulting with family and constituents about a possible move.

"I have made no secret of the fact that I have been actively considering placing my name on the ballot … and have been very open about that," Byrne said.

Byrne, who turns 48 on Saturday, has represented Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte since 1996.

Humber West is currently represented by Progressive Conservative MHA Vaughn Granter, who is the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

Speculation about Byrne's political intentions come at a time when the provincial Liberals are riding high in public opinion polls, and have seen their ranks bolstered in recent months by four byelection victories and several defections from the PCs and the New Democratic Party.

A provincial general election will take place sometime in 2015.

Meanwhile, speculation is now beginning to mount about who might make a bid to replace Byrne at the federal level, with party insiders floating names such as former provincial cabinet ministers Chuck Furey and Kevin Aylward, and Corner Brook lawyer Mark Watton, as potential candidates for the Liberal nomination.