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Weighing the options


It was obvious during the brief time that the provincial political spotlight shone on Frank Coleman that the man who would be premier was not prepared for that kind of limelight.

There is no doubting his intellect or business savvy. Building a business empire like he has done is no mean feat, particularly to do it in this province.

However, just a month into the countdown to his anointment as premier, it was becoming obvious that Coleman was not cut out for the scrutiny and public comment that comes with being the head honcho of the provincial government.

While he is, no doubt, a giant in business, he didn't exactly blow onto the provincial political scene like a force to be reckoned with.

Urgent family matters necessitated his decision on Monday, he said.

Fair enough.

Still, the collective gut feeling is that his heart wasn't in it. And who could blame him on that score as well. To reach the age of 60, and having spent all your life making decisions that don't fire up the rhetoric and bile on the Open Line shows, dipping your toe into this province's political arena must have been quite a shock to the system.

He doesn't really need this; he was brave to think he could take it on and we wish him well.

Where next then?

The provincial Progressive Conservative party now finds itself in a dilemma they could never have imagined, and certainly never wished for: leaderless and with no clear prospects to bring them towards the next provincial election.

While John Ottenheimer was quick to announce his intention to run, the fact that he never stepped forward when Coleman and Barry announced raises a handful of questions.

Does Ottenheimer really want the job of Premier, or is he just playing to the crowd - jumping into the fray to give the party time to regroup and get their leadership search back on track? Taking one for the team, so to speak.

Certainly, there could be nothing worse for the party after Coleman's announcement than to have the scenario where party members stand around with their arms folded, hemming and hawing about taking a run at the leadership.

So Ottenheimer jumps in to help the party maintain momentum while it regroups.

And certainly being a career politician, Ottenheimer knows how to handle public scrutiny and stand up to criticism.

It's certainly plausible that he's basically going to keep the seat warm until one or two people step forward to turn this into a real race.

And that's exactly what's needed.

To save face, to regain momentum and, perhaps even, rebuild, the PC Party needs a real leadership race.

It needs at least two candidates, hopefully more, to want to be chief cook and bottle washer, head honcho, Premier.

It needs people who understand the public scrutiny that falls on those who hold public office and are not deterred by it.

It's only with a real leadership race, a face-off between two or more candidates, debating their vision for the party and the province in public, that the party has any hope of re-engaging the public and the support of voters.

And the faster they can find a couple of good candidates and stage a convention to allow all candidates to lay their vision and political cards on the table, the better.

As it stands right now, the PC Party is losing ground, fast. If it can't find a leader, how can it possibly entice people to put themselves forward as candidates for the next provincial election? While that event is over a year away, the party knows - as all political parties know - that potential candidates need to start doing the groundwork now to ensure supporters for the next trip to the ballot box.

It is crucial for the PC party to regroup quickly, and rebuild, not just for the party but also for the province's voters.

Heading to the ballot box next year we need strong contenders, at least two vibrant parties as options.

While political parties are not served well by anointments; voters stand to lose even more.

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