Premier-designate Frank Coleman said he wants to take over as soon as possible, after he’s confirmed by the PC party rank-and-file in early July.
Coleman debunked an earlier news report that he didn’t want to take over right away, and was planning on touring the province for the summer before being sworn in as premier.
Frank Coleman speaks with Tories at the party’s delegate selection meeting in Heart’s Content earlier this month. — File photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
“I don’t think that’s the right thing to do,” he said. “I think the right answer is, you know, I go to the convention meeting in the first week of July, and then very shortly after, I get sworn in as premier.”
Coleman is the last man standing in the Progressive Conservative leadership race to replace Kathy Dunderdale, who stepped down as premier in January.
When rival candidate Bill Barry dropped out of the race a week and a half ago, Coleman became the uncontested premier-in-waiting.
He doesn’t need to win a byelection before he becomes premier, but he does need to get the PC party membership to formally endorse him. That is scheduled to happen at a convention on the first weekend in July.
“After the convention, within a very, very short span of time, I would like to be sworn in as premier,” Coleman said. “I don’t want to wait a whole lot of time after the convention, and I don’t think that the people of the province would want me to wait either.”
Coleman said he hasn’t figured out when, exactly, he’ll call the byelection to try to win a seat in the House of Assembly.
Eventually, Coleman will need to lead his party into a general election, but the law says he has one year after he’s sworn in as premier to call the election.
The matter of winning a seat in the legislature through a byelection, though, will likely come much sooner.
Current leader Tom Marshall has said he will retire and vacate the Humber East seat when Coleman takes over, but as for the exact date of a byelection, that still needs to be worked out.
Coleman said it’s been a hectic time since Barry dropped out of the race, and he hasn’t had a chance to have a lot of discussions with Marshall yet.
“He’s been away. He was, I think, in Ottawa this past week. He’s been travelling a fair bit and so have I. We’ve talked a few times on the phone. We haven’t met in person, and I really want to sit down with him, hopefully very soon.” Coleman said. “I think both he and I recognize that we need to be communicating a bit more now that the race, as such, is over.”
In the meantime, he said he’s going to use the next few months to tour the province and talk to party members, getting ready to take over as premier of the province.
“Right now, today, I’ve been all the way down the Port au Port Peninsula. I’m meeting with town officials today. I’m meeting with district association people shortly. I’m busy, I’m active,” he said. “It is an attempt by me to try to get out and see every district that I can before this convention — as much as I can, anyway.”