I laugh at those who in self- righteous indignation or in perceived political opportunity rise up on their hind legs and rail against the $25,000 price tag on entering the Liberal leadership race. Unless you came into town on a load of turnips you should know that it is “a nuisance fee” that is designed to keep out, not the ordinary citizen, but rather the lunatic fringe from running for the Liberal leadership and spoiling the optics of a political convention and a public Liberal moment in the sun.
In leadership conventions and politics in general there were always a few loose cannons or really fringe candidates on the go. Remember when Randy Joyce ran for Liberal leader in that epic Joe Smallwood – John Crosbie battle? Randy had no chance. He just wanted a stage and he got one. Now are you old enough to remember Hughie Shea? Hughie, the one-time P.C./one time Liberal and briefly an MHA ran for everything in the end. He won nothing. Hughie just wanted a platform from which to try and find the limelight. My favourite fringe candidate of all time wasn’t from here. He was Screaming Lord Sutch from England in the 60s. He was the founder and frontman for The Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
Lord Sutch, who wasn’t a peer of the realm, was never elected despite running for office more than thirty times. He was also a rock and roll singer. I almost forgot someone I knew fairly well. Ed White, who you would know as Sailor White or Moondog in wrestling circles. He ran for the House of Commons twice. Once for the Green party and once for the Extreme Wrestling Party. Sailor’s slogan was “Parliament Needs a Moondog.”
All of the above could have run for the Liberal leadership in this province, but only IF they had $25,000. The purpose of the fee was to keep out those whose candidacy doesn’t advance party goals. Yeah says who? Well the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s their party! They don’t need an independent MHA who belongs to no party or a handful of people from open line or the letters to the editor section of the paper to tell them how to run things. You can tell that because the news cycle shelf life of the “fee story” was about 18 hours. It vanished quicker than “the possibility of a Ches Crosbie led Conservative, Liberal, NDP coalition government” story.
If you think this “fee to run’’ situation is a Liberal phenomenon, think again. The federal Conservative Party of Canada will welcome you into their current leadership race, BUT you must have $300,000 at the door. $200,000 is a payment to the party, an entry fee. That would have kept both Hughie Shea and Screaming Lord Sutch out of that race too. Now, as they appear ready to crown Andrew Furey, the Liberal deck has been cleared.
NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org