© Star file photo
Bill Barry is seen in an undated file photo.
Leader selected by the party insiders, he says
Bill Barry found it very difficult to “play the game” when he felt the game was over.
The Corner Brook businessman announced in an email early Thursday morning that he was withdrawing from the race to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, leaving fellow businessman and friend Frank Coleman as the sole candidate.
In the email, Barry talked about the lack of support among cabinet ministers, his positions on recent policy decisions and how he felt he was playing against a stacked deck.
“Obviously, you know it’s not one particular thing, but it was a recognition in my own mind that the race wasn’t really a race,” said Barry in an exclusive interview with The Western Star.
“I just chose to recognize that the leader has been selected by the party insiders.”
Barry said those insiders have a right to present their own rules.
“But if they’re going to do that, why have a convention?” he asked. “If the determination is going be made before the debate happens, and before an event happens and people are going to all head in one particular direction, why go through the process? It seems disingenuous to me.
“No matter how it unfolded for me over the last three months I just reached a point where I felt that the decision for who the new leader was going to be was actually already made.”
To continue in the race, he said, would be like participating in a sham.
“I’m not in into that kind of stuff.”
He also pointed to flaws in the process as leaving him feeling uncomfortable. In particular delegate selection, which is something he said from the getgo he wouldn’t participate in.
“Some of the delegate selection processes that I attended were not democratic in nature. The people who were going to be chosen as delegates were selected before the doors even opened,” he said. “I really don’t like the process and I don’t expect to ever see a delegated convention process in Newfoundland ever again. I think this is old style and I don’t think it works well.”
Barry said he could have gotten beyond some things.
“If I felt we were actually going to a convention where there would be a free and open vote by all delegates and that the decision of — I call it the party insiders — wasn’t already made.”
He said the decision wasn’t made by everybody, but he described it as a numbers game and said the chances of him being successful in terms of winning were slim.
As for what’s next, Barry was clear in saying he thinks that Coleman is the premier.
“He’s the only one left in the race,” he said. “Premier (Tom) Marshall has already said that he will be stepping down so I assume that Frank will be stepping up.”
Barry said he has no negative feelings.
“I’m not offended by the outcome in any way. I know Frank well and I’m sure he’s anxious to get in there and go to work.
“I wish him well and I wish the province well.”
So for Barry it’s back to business.
“It’s not retirement,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve already had a full morning so far this morning.”
Will he consider running in the next provincial election? Barry said he hasn’t given it any thought.
He’ll still let his opinions and views be known and will do so, as he has in the past, from a non-political viewpoint.
“I always approached issues as if they were a generic issue and what’s your opinion on a generic issue, not whether it was blue or red or some other colour. And I’m sure my opinions are uncomfortable for many, but they are my opinions.”
He knows those opinions may have cost him support, but asking “Why not me?” is something he’s never done and won’t do.
“I accept it for the way it is,” he said. “But I think the way it is, from my own personal perspective, I really don’t feel I have to wait until the fourth or fifth of July to see what it is.
“It is what it is.”