Senator Fabian Manning says he’s very seriously thinking about running for the PC Party leadership, and he’s not too worried about his political past if he decides to go for the job.
Conservative Senator Fabian Manning
Reached by phone from Ottawa, Manning said he’s gauging support, and watching as the race firms up before he makes a final decision.
“Who else is running is a major part of my thought process. And you know, the leadership campaign is one portion of this process, and then the impending election is another part,” Manning said. “It’s a big decision, you know, I won’t camouflage it in any way.
“But it’s something that certainly I have an interest in, and certainly I’ve been very pleased, to be honest with you, with the calls I have received and the offers of support — both human support and financial support.”
Manning has a fairly complicated relationship with the provincial PC Party.
He was thrown out of caucus when he ran afoul of former premier Danny Williams; then a few years later he was the main target of Williams’ brutal “ABC Anything But Conservative” campaign when he ran for re-election in the federal seat of Avalon.
“I was point man for sure. No doubt about that,” Manning said with a laugh. “I’ve learned some valuable lessons; I’ve got some political scars that no one else would ever, ever have.”
But through it all, Manning said he’s never been anything but a Progressive Conservative.
“I’m not a Johnny-come-lately to the Tory party of Newfoundland and Labrador. I mean, I was born a Tory,” he said. “Whether right, wrong or indifferent, I sat as an independent — because I didn’t have a whole lot of choice at that time.”
Manning has been appointed to the Senate twice by Prime Minister Stephen Harper — he was appointed the first time in 2008 and then he resigned in order to re-run and try to win back his seat in the House of Commons in the 2011 election. After he lost again in 2011, he was re-appointed to the Senate by Harper.
It’s unclear if he’d resign his Senate seat again if he decides to go after the provincial PC Party leadership.
“I don’t even know what the process is in that regard,” he said.
As for his past with the party, Manning said that there’s been a lot of change within the PC Party caucus since he was last a member of the House of Assembly.
“I look at the caucus of today that’s in Newfoundland versus when I left there — I’ll put it to you that way — eight years ago,” he said. “Twenty-four of the 34 caucus members were not there when I was there. There’s only 10 caucus members that sit in today’s caucus that were members of caucus when I was in caucus.”
When it comes to the folks who are there now, Manning said he’s been making some calls.
“I’ve talked to several of those people over the past 10-12 days,” he said. “And right there, there’s people within that caucus I am confident that I could depend on them for support.”
The PC Party announced that the leadership convention will take place on the weekend of July 4-5 at the St. John’s Convention Centre.
It will be a delegated convention, but most of the other rules around the race haven’t been firmed up yet. Many of the prominent candidates seem to be keeping their powder dry until they have a better sense of who’s in and who’s out before they make a decision.