MHA cites premier’s lack of leadership
On Monday morning, Mount Pearl South MHA Paul Lane — one of the fiercest partisans in the Tory caucus — shocked the local political scene by announcing he’s joining the Liberals.
Provincial Liberal Leader Dwight Ball (left) speaks to media following the announcement that MHA Paul Lane was leaving the Tories to join the Liberal party. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Lane was widely known in political circles as a political bruiser and a loyal PC party soldier, but on Monday he said he’s got major problems with the government’s priorities and the way Premier Kathy Dunderdale leads the province.
“While her intentions may be honourable, I believe that our government has lost its way, and has indeed forgotten to listen to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.
He was flanked by Liberal Leader Dwight Ball and other members of the Official Opposition as he made the announcement that he’s re-nouncing his membership in the PC party.
Lane said he’s developed serious misgivings about the government’s Bill 29 amendments to the province’s access to information legislation.
He said when he voted in favour of the legislation, despite overwhelming criticism, he thought it was the right thing to do.
But after the new law rolled out, Lane, too, decided the government had gone too far.
He said he approached two different cabinet ministers saying the law should be re-examined and amended in the legislature. He said he was shot down both times.
“Unfortunately, since the passage of the infamous Bill 29 and the subsequent media firestorm, many constituents I speak to question government’s motives around various issues, and point to Bill 29 as a reason to be skeptical,” Lane said. “On two other, separate occasions, I raised the issue in front of the entire caucus and on both occasions was told by the premier there would be no repeal of, or amendment to the ATIPP Act.”
He also said he’s not happy with the government’s heavy emphasis on economic development and natural resources issues; he said more focus needs to be put onto helping seniors and people struggling with poverty.
But the last straw, Lane said, was the recent blackouts. He said Dunderdale was missing in action, and showed a total lack of empathy for the people dealing with the mess.
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball welcomed Lane with open arms. He said they’d had some long conversations over the weekend, and he’s convinced that Lane’s political views line up well with the Liberal party.
“We’re an open party if anybody wants to talk to us,” Ball said. “It’s not to the point that the party is accepting everybody. The fit has got to be right.”
Premier Kathy Dunderdale was out of the province Monday, reportedly on vacation, but her office sent an emailed statement on her behalf.
“Mr. Lane didn’t express any discontent with leadership or the direction of the party before his announcement today, including when he accepted a promotion on October 9,” Dunderdale said in the emailed statement. “Mr. Lane had ample opportunity to voice his concerns surrounding leadership and direction of the party to me. He did not.”
Dunderdale’s press secretary said that she’ll be back in the province “in the coming days” and will speak to the media then.