Nfld. & Labrador

Graydon Pelley's NL Alliance is not what province needs, say opposing party leaders

PC leader Ches Crosbie says he doesn't know what Graydon Pelley's concerns were, because the former party president didn't come to him with them before resigning.

PC Leader Ches Crosbie says he had no indication of former party president's problems with the PCs

PC Party leader Ches Crosbie says former party president Graydon Pelley did not come to him with concerns about party transparency or business influence. (Katie Breen/CBC)

If Graydon Pelley had concerns about the transparency or direction of his political party, it was news to Ches Crosbie, the PC leader said Wednesday.

Crosbie's comments came the same day Pelley announced his resignation as president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador — along with his intentions to start a new political party, the NL Alliance.

Pelley ran against Premier Dwight Ball in 2015, but the premier says his position on Pelley's new political endeavour is not personal. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

"I wasn't aware of any particular disagreement or disgruntlement or any issue at all," Crosbie told reporters after question period.

He hadn't previously heard about the philosophical differences Pelley mentioned in his resignation letter, Crosbie said, adding that the former party president had a direct line to him if he needed to discuss anything, but didn't do so.

Premier Dwight Ball said Pelley's departure suggests there's some confusion within the PC Party itself, pointing to Pelley's assertion that he doesn't want the NL Alliance to be called a political party.

"The Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance Party that don't believe in party politics. I kind of thought that was a bit odd," Ball said.

Criticism of party politics

"But it really, to me, it speaks to what we see going on in the PC Party."

Crosbie, who was chosen as PC leader in April, said his lack of knowledge about Pelley's plans or complaints isn't an indication that he isn't aware of what's happening in the party.

"I think it simply says that I don't spend a lot of my time examining people to see whether they might be having, you know, negative thoughts about the party," he said.

Ball says he's excited to run on his party's platform in 2019, regardless of how many political parties there are in the province at the time of the election. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Just a few weeks ago Pelley was touting the PC Party's transparency, Ball said, but on Wednesday Pelley said a lack of transparency was among the reasons why he was leaving the party.

Crosbie said he's not sure what specific differences Pelley has with the PC Party other than "a vague kind of populism."

"What I can't fathom is what his agenda is because he's being very vague on that," he said of Pelley.

He's also not sure about Pelley's stated concerns about the party's big-business ties, he said, but Crosbie did say he'd he like to see unions and ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians provide more political party funding.

NDP Leader Gerry Rogers says Newfoundlanders and Labradorians don't want divisive politics. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"It's one of my objectives, in terms of democratic reform, to change that system."

That could be done by limiting corporate and union donations, he said, and the process might require transitional funding from the provincial government.

'We need to get to a system where funding from ordinary individuals is the main force of political party funding."

Controversial social media posts

Pelley's social media posts, which drew criticism as being against the LGBT community, came up Wednesday after his resignation announcement. Crosbie said he hadn't discussed the matter with Pelley and must take him at face value when he says they were not meant to be offensive of exclusionary.

'His tweetings or his Facebook postings, he's saying he didn't mean any disrespect to any group by them," Crosbie said.

But NDP Leader Gerry Rogers said the posts speak for themselves, and are indicative of a kind of politics that people don't want to see in this province.

"The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are not looking for a mean type of politics. They're not looking for a move to the right," Rogers said.

It's not about the individual. It's about the philosophy of the group that he wants to lead.- Dwight Ball

Ball said his view of the new political endeavour from Pelley, who ran against him in his riding in the 2015 election, is not personal.

"We live on the same street. I see Mr. Pelley all the time. We're not enemies; it's nothing like that," Ball said.

"It's not about the individual. It's about the philosophy of the group that he wants to lead."

Crosbie said regardless of where the policies and philosophies of Pelley — and the NL Alliance — fall, those of the PC Party in the province are clear.

"We're all about equality and inclusiveness. It's the Progressive Conservative Party," he said.

"The 'conservative' part means we're fiscally responsible. The 'progressive' part means we're socially progressive. That's where we stand."

With files from Katie Breen

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