Nfld. & Labrador

Independent MHA Paul Lane says all 3 parties have asked him about next election

Paul Lane has sent a letter to his constituents, asking what they think he should do in the next election.

Lane is asking his constituents what they want him to do

MHA Paul Lane says all three parties have approached him with options for the next election. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Paul Lane says all options are on the table for the next provincial election, including re-joining the Dwight Ball-led Liberal Party he was booted from and publicly criticized over the past two years.

CBC News obtained a copy of a letter Lane sent to his constituents in Mount Pearl-Southlands, asking them which party they would like to see him join, or if they'd rather he stayed as an Independent.

When reached on Monday night, Lane said he has had discussions about his candidacy with the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.

"I guess I can say that all three parties have reached out over the last number of months, so you know, basically those options are there."

Lane wouldn't get into specifics on those conversations, but reiterated that all three parties reached out to him and gave him the option to join.

Back to the backbench?

For the Liberals and the Tories, it would be a relapse of sorts for Lane.

He crossed the floor from the Progressive Conservative government under Kathy Dunderdale, citing his constituents' lack of faith in their government, and his own dissatisfaction with her leadership.

Lane had been a vocal supporter on many PC initiatives, including Muskrat Falls — which he later walked back on.

Dwight Ball stood next to Paul Lane as he announced his departure from the Tory caucus in 2014. (CBC)

In 2016, as a member of the Liberal caucus, Lane voted against the provincial budget, again citing a lack of confidence from his district on a stringent budget.

Since then, Lane has been a vocal critic of both Progressive Conservative and Liberal issues.

No matter what he decides to do, Lane said he refuses to give up his voice and become a silent backbencher for anybody.

"I intend to have my own voice," he said. "If I were to go with a party, I'd want to make sure there was some kind of change within the internal mechanisms of that party so that all members could have meaningful input, particularly if it impacts their district.

"That would certainly be a pre-condition, if you will, for me if I were to go with any party in the future."

Weighing personal views with public input

Lane said he already knows which options he is comfortable with pursuing, and what things he doesn't want to do, but wouldn't tip his hand one way or the other.

When asked if he thought he was pandering for votes by asking his constituents which party he should run for, Lane said he believes he'll have critics no matter what decision he makes.

Lane said he recognizes the importance of believing a party's values before joining it, but said if his constituents want him to do something he isn't comfortable with, he'll still have to consider it.

"I have my own personal views on what the parties stand for," he said. "I'm not simply saying, 100 per cent, that if a number of people say to do a certain thing that that's something I'm going to be able to do."

Any thoughts of that, you can kind of erase that right now- Paul Lane on joining fellow Independents

Lane said there's also the option to start a new party in the province. The last time a candidate ran for a registered fourth party was in 2007, when the New Labrador Party put up a candidate for a byelection.

The only thing Lane will rule out is starting a new party with fellow Independent MHAs Eddie Joyce and Dale Kirby, who were kicked out of the Liberal caucus amidst allegations of bullying and harassment.

"Any thoughts of that, you can kind of erase that right now," he said.

Lane said he won't rush any decisions, but expects to have an idea of what he is doing by early in the New Year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryan Cooke is a journalist in St. John's.

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