Nfld. & Labrador·Weekend Briefing

Ain't no party like a Graydon Pelley party, mainly because Graydon Pelley won't call it that

He went candidate-to-candidate with Dwight Ball. Now the former Tory president wants to go leader-to-leader.

Former PC Party president lost to Premier Dwight Ball at the district level; wants to take him on as leader

Graydon Pelley has resigned as president of Newfoundland and Labrador's PCs. (Graydon Pelley/Twitter)

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Former PC Party president Graydon Pelley, who resigned this week to start his own political party — just don't call it that — is setting his sights on Dwight Ball again, but in a much broader way than when the two last went head to head in 2015.

Pelley was then the Tory candidate in the Humber-Gros Morne district in the Newfoundland and Labrador election, taking on Ball, in the future premier's first provincial election as Liberal leader.

The Liberals were polling so far ahead of the PCs at the time that there were whispers of a possible sweep, but there was some reason for hope in the Pelley camp; Ball had won the Humber Valley district four years earlier by just 68 votes, a slim 1.26-percentage-point victory over Darryl Kelly.

Optimists take heart

Of course, in 2011, Ball wasn't the leader, and the PCs hadn't yet lost the popularity they'd enjoyed under Danny Williams, who'd stepped down as leader 10 months earlier.

But even so, party optimists could point to the 1989 provincial election, when the Liberals, despite losing the popular vote, won a majority under Clyde Wells, who himself lost to the PCs' Lynn Verge … in Humber East. (What exactly is it about ridings with "Humber" in the name? Maybe they should be called "Humbler" from now on.)

(One can really go down a rabbit hole looking at old election results; that 1989 election was when still-very-much-in-the-news Eddie Joyce was first elected to the House, as the member for Bay of Islands, but he stepped aside immediately so Wells could run in a byelection. Verge would go on to lead the PCs into the 1996 election. The PCs lost that one, as did Verge, in Humbler East.)

Humber-Gros Morne PC candidate Graydon Pelley speaks at a campaign rally as Paul Davis and supporters look on. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Aaaaanyway, there was no Verge-esque upset in 2015; Ball won by more than 3,600 votes.

But now Pelley wants to take on Ball again, this time leader-to-leader. Pelley says politics is party-focused instead of people-focused, which is one of the reasons he's shying away from using the word "party" himself, and is calling his incipient party — hey, it's a perfectly cromulent word! — the N.L. Alliance.

It seems fair to suggest he's gotten off to a rocky start. His disaffection with party politics was, apparently, news to the leader of the party of which Pelley was president.

His stated goal — "focus on the people" — is pretty much the definition of populism, but that's a word used perhaps more pejoratively than sincerely today, and he's distancing himself from any suggestion that he'd follow a Doug Ford or Donald Trump style of governance.

Of course, the Facebook post didn't help. In March, Pelley shared an anti-LGBTQ post that codified pronouns and nouns in strictly binary ways: "Him. Her. He. She. His Hers." "Man. Woman. Male. Female." Etc.

"That's the way it shall be!" proclaims the post, which also urges, "Share if you're tired of foolishness."

Pelley has apologized for the post, and claims he didn't realize it's anti-LGBTQ and he wouldn't have shared it if he had. That, naturally, raised the questions "What did you think it was referring to?" and "What foolishness exactly are you tired of?" Despite his apology, he hasn't answered those.

And critics weren't exactly mollified when, while telling CBC that everyone — regardless of sexual orientation — is to be respected, he explained that he has a son who "is a practising gay."

His explanation for his explanation? "Live interviews are not forgiving."

That can certainly be true — guess we'll find out if voters are. 

Pelley says more will be revealed about the Alliance on Monday.

For your weekend reading, might we suggest …

Apart from weather that came at us like a horde of hungry wolves, we published a number of things over the last week you might like to see. 

Here's a story about homesteading, municipal regulations … and three chickens named McNugget, Lentil and Bean

One place to cut down on plastics? Fishing gear

The first big-box neighbourhood in the province is in flux

Not many people live in Three Arms; the CBC's David Common paid it a visit, and linked its history to the Great War, in one of the week's most-read pieces. 

Beatrix Potter Elementary students Oscar Heard, Sasha Cellino and Sophia Anderson look through the window of the abandoned home of Silas Edgecombe in Ochre Pit Cove. (Paul Daly for CBC)

We heard many, many people say they needed a Kleenex after — and, indeed, while — reading Ted Blades's moving account of how young London schoolchildren for the last 15 years have been tending to the graves of Newfoundland soldiers (and one nurse) buried across the street from their school. 

Got a library card? With #nlreads now under way, there's open (but time-limited!) ebook access to the first contender. Here's a profile of author Trudy Morgan-Cole

A Bay Bulls doctor was reprimanded for too-candid comments to a patient about his sexual history. 

Hungry at night in St. John's? Your options are improving

Safaa Thome serves Syrian dishes in her new farmers market kitchen. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Speaking of food, two of our reporters teamed up to bring you the story of two Syrian families on separate coasts who are opening their own restaurants. 

Our weekend warrior (with knitting needles)

We've been bringing you a series of videos about our hosts. Here's on Heather Barrett, whose passions include knitting and running — just not at the same time!

Check out the video above and learn a bit more about the host of Weekend AM

A blanket of snow

It's not technically winter, but let's face it: it feels that way when snow is on the ground. 

A blanket of snow in Nain on an early morning. (Submitted by Megan Webb)

Our featured photo this week comes from Nain; reader Megan Webb shared it with us. You can find it in our weekly audience gallery

Did you know you can contribute, too? Email a photo and caption to nlphotos@cbc.ca, and we may use it in the next gallery, on our social media platforms, or with Ashley Brauweiler's evening forecasts on Here & Now

John Gushue contributed to this edition of Weekend Briefing. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Daniel MacEachern is a St. John's-based reporter and producer with CBC News. You can email him at daniel.maceachern@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.