Osborne says he’s Liberal for life

James McLeod
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St. John’s South MHA Tom Osborne speaks to media at the community centre in Shea Heights Thursday morning. He announced he has joined the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

MHA Tom Osborne ended nearly a year in limbo Thursday by announcing that he’s joining the Liberal party.

In front of a crowd of about 100 supporters, family members, Liberal politicians and staffers, Osborne declared that the Liberal party was the best place for him.

“The party that I’m joining, I’m joining for the rest of my life,” he said. “I believe that philosophically, ideologically and politically I’m a good fit for the Liberal party.”

Osborne has been a Progressive Conservative stalwart for decades, and an elected MHA since 1996. But last September, he left the PC party caucus, saying that he could no longer support the leadership of Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

The Liberals are enjoying an upswing in support and interest as five candidates campaign across the province for the leadership of the party.

On Thursday, Osborne didn’t endorse anybody, but he did insert himself into the race, saying after considering the lay of the land, he could happily serve under the leadership of any of the “three frontrunners” in the race.

“If either of the three frontrunners win the leadership of the Liberal party, they are somebody that I can work with,” he said. “I think we have five very good individuals running for the Liberal party. The three frontrunners are, I think, three fine individuals.”

Later, he said he believes Dwight Ball, Cathy Bennett and Paul Antle are the frontrunners in the race.

Ball was in the Shea Heights community centre for Osborne’s announcement, and said the move is in line with the momentum that he’s developed in the past year and a half as interim leader.

“It supports what I’ve been saying for quite some time, that we’ve been bringing people back to the Liberal party. We’re bringing new people to the Liberal party,” Ball said.

Antle said having an MHA from St. John’s will give the party a foothold to expand support in the area. Until Osborne joined the party, all six Liberal MHAs were clustered along the west coast of the island and in Labrador.

“It gives us a presence in St. John’s, a base for us to grow from,” Antle said.

“He’s an honourable gentleman. He’s the longest-sitting member in the House of Assembly. He has a great rapport with his constituents. He has so much to offer.”

Interim opposition leader Eddie Joyce said the party has been talking with Osborne for months, but things weren’t nailed down until this week.

“There was always a lot of discussion back and forth over this. We had some strong indications Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said. “There’s been negotiation going on and chatting for the past year, and then it got more serious in the last month or two months.”

There had been rumblings and rumours that Osborne could join the NDP, and New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael said they’d been talking.

But she said they wouldn’t cut any deals, and they wouldn’t offer protection to Osborne if the

St. John’s South NDP district association tried to nominate another candidate in the district for the 2015 election.

“I did indicate to Mr. Osborne that there (were) no concessions to be made — that he would come in on an equal footing with everybody, and find his place within our caucus and within our party,” she said. “He would have to come in on his own merit.”

Premier Kathy Dunderdale issued a written statement, wishing Osborne well.

“Mr. Osborne has made his decision. I wish him well,” Dunderdale said. “Our government’s focus remains the same — doing what’s in the best interests of the people of the province and ensuring Newfoundland and Labrador’s fiscal future continues to be stable and sustainable.”

Osborne’s family has been heavily involved with the PC party for a long time; both his uncle, Bob Ridgley, and his monther, Sheila Osborne, represented the Tories in the House of Assembly.

Sheila Osborne was at Tom’s announcement Thursday morning, wearing a red shirt — although she said she wears red all the time, and wasn’t trying to send any political signals.

Nonetheless, she said she’ll be voting Liberal from now on.

“Of course, I’ll be supporting the LIberal party because my son is a member, and because we were disenchanted with the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party, which was why he moved,” she said.



Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: NDP, NDP district association, House of Assembly.Sheila Osborne

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Shea Heights

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Recent comments

  • gord
    August 30, 2013 - 22:34

    "opportunist" I was always warned by a very wise person I married to "trust no one" Time has proven this true.

  • Ambrose
    August 30, 2013 - 14:49

    It's just amazing how far my party after sinking, When i heard the news about this man joining the provincial liberal party. All respect i had for them's wents out the window, One minutes they are calling Cathy Bennett a Torie, Now they have honest Tom. enough to make you sick. One other thing that pissed me of. Is when they did what they did to Mr Charles Murphy of corner brook. All because of his article in the western star. Far as i'm concern the reason they said no to him, because he show leadership. And the liberal didn't want to look foolish in the eyes of the people once more. By making D Ball leader.

  • Shackshockshinkle
    August 30, 2013 - 10:56

    Life is two (2) years , less a day . He will be defeated in the next election .

  • Patricia
    August 30, 2013 - 10:11

    Gimme a break!! Liberal for life.What is LIFE?? Until something better comes along.

  • Chantal
    August 30, 2013 - 10:06

    Aaah, the Liberial party: Where opportunists gather and principles don't really matter.

  • A Pathetic man
    August 30, 2013 - 10:03

    “I know my wife kicked me out of the house, so I asked the orange-haired woman to let me move in, but she said that I would have to do the dishes and help with the cleaning, but now I’m with you, Baby. I’ve always loved you. Those others meant nothing to me. Honestly, Babe.”

  • BR
    August 30, 2013 - 09:56

    Politicians will say whatever they think you want to hear

  • Paul
    August 30, 2013 - 09:35

    Not that I care all that much about politicians anymore because they are all alike but I would like to raise one point. Mr. Osborne was voted in as a Tory by people supporting the Tory Party. How is it that these politicians can change sides going against the majority of people in his district. Once you have been elected then you should have to remain in that party until the next election or step away from government.

  • Patrick
    August 30, 2013 - 09:35

    Efford endorses Tom. How about good old John Efford run for the Liberals in Port de Grade again. Now that would be a story.

  • saelcove
    August 30, 2013 - 09:32

    Never trust a politician tory today fiberal tomorrow ndp the next day what ever it takes to stay in power

  • EDfromRED
    August 30, 2013 - 09:31

    Who does the bell toll for? It tolls for the inept, secrecy obsessed, arrogant PC Party of NL. You could have a mannequin running against a PC next election, and the mannequin would win by a landslide. I for one am looking forward to seeing the PC's getting a trouncing next election. Maybe then they'll realize the folly of being blatantly contemptuous of the electorate.

  • tom power
    August 30, 2013 - 09:05

    Red Tory, I hear ya Tom. Some sooky NDPers, should change their colors from orange to yellow as they've proven to be a bunch of lemons and the up coming municipal , provincial and federal elections will prove that. Champagne/ Chardonnay Socialists......arrogant and condescending.....no thank you.

  • Barry
    August 30, 2013 - 08:36

    Tom is such a well respected man in St. John's South that it wouldn't matter to much which party he joined cause its the person that people in this district vote for not the party.

  • Charlie
    August 30, 2013 - 08:26

    Liberal, Tory, same old story.

  • John Smith
    August 30, 2013 - 08:24

    What a sook...Premier Williams thre him out of cabinet, then he tried to become speaker and never got one vote...he got sooky, and left the party...in a very few years no one will remember this guy....

  • Steve
    August 30, 2013 - 07:37

    Look at the results in St. John's South for the past several elections. The Liberals do very poorly. If you assume that Tom loses half of his support to a strong Tory candidate, which is a likely scenario, the NDP are looking good. Even assuming he gets the base Liberal vote, they are very few in numbers. The NDP came a strong second there last time, and a similar effort would offer a good chance of success for them.

  • Filly
    August 30, 2013 - 07:35

    Dunderdale wishes him well? That's a change of tone for her. They tried to tear him apart when he left the party.

  • roy
    August 30, 2013 - 07:34

    Osbourne is an opportunist, he will go where it benefits him, like most politicians . Like most, you know whats , will leave a sinking ship. I'm not saying he will not do what he can for his district, but he will help himself first, which is only human. I guess the liberals offered him the most.

  • Orange Man
    August 30, 2013 - 07:01

    If you don't like one tory party, simply join the other one.

    • JJ
      August 30, 2013 - 09:58

      Hey Orange man, those grapes must be pretty sour. Your team was trying to woo Tom as I recall.

  • Greg
    August 30, 2013 - 05:57

    LOL, Really...Mr Ball what momentum are you talking about? That you build as interim leader. Bill 29 and muskrat falls, If the liberal and ndp are going up in the polls. its about the PCS falling behind. Nothing you done. As for the byelection in labrador, anyone in red could of won that seat..Why are you pathing yourself on the back, because Tom cross the floor. Tell me Mr Ball why are the people in your district packing there bags for the mainland, Do you call that leadership. If the liberal do come to power in 2015. We will know what hardtimes are all about. I wouldn't let you fix the tire on my wheel barrel...As for voting for a liberal, you can forget that..

    • Eli
      August 30, 2013 - 08:22

      Best thing you can do Greg is go back to school. Start with Spelling-101

  • Betty
    August 30, 2013 - 05:30

    Ball the only reason the liberal and the ndp are going in the polls, Are because of Bill 29 and muskrat falls..Your the man who stood in marystown and told the people there you see a future in that community, but in your own districts you only see make work project, follow by starvation. Yes that what the province need someone like you...LOL