Friday, May 18, 2007

"My Liberal credentials are very limited"

The political news of the day is the announcement from Mt. Pearl Mayor Steve Kent that he is running for the Progressive Conservative nomination in the great provincial district of Waterford-Kenmount.

Of course that's not really news. Bond Papers outed him here back on January 23, 2007. No doubt he's been giving the matter so much thought over so much time that it really makes you wonder how much of his municipal activities over the last 6 months or so (including picking a fight with St. John's which Kent himself described as a "considerable stretch") have been done with this announcement in mind.

Reporters gave him a bit of a hard time during his newser to the extent that he had to plead that no, he wasn't being opportunistic. Well, since he's raised the opportunism issue . . .

Mr. Kent says that he feels so strongly about the Progressive Conservative Party of Premier Williams that that's why he became a member and why he's running for the nomination today. And of course it is those things that make him a Progressive Conservative.

And I guess that's his most recent product of his ongoing political development. He has now flirted with, or otherwise participated in the activities of, almost every political party there is to join with the notable exception of the NDP (he's still young).

In 2000, during the federal bye-election in St. John's West, he toyed with the Conservative Alliance/Reform crowd.

The Telegram published stories written by Ryan Cleary (March 25, 2000, Title: Kent shows his colours: Deputy mayor chooses Liberals after flirting with Alliance), quoting emails to CA organisers where Kent stated things like:
"I concluded that it may be in the interest of people of Mount Pearl, and ultimately St. John's West, that I consider offering myself for election. I think that with the right candidate, the Alliance will have a legitimate shot at winning the seat in the upcoming byelection."

"I think, though, that the Alliance provides a meaningful alternative to the status quo that will gain considerable credibility and respect in the months ahead.''

"A new face. A new vision. A new century ... that was my slogan in '97. When I think about the reasons I entered politics, it seems very consistent with where the new Alliance is heading.''
So at the time he sounded pretty positive about the party that has since become the Conservative Party of Canada under Prime Minister Steven Harper.

But it wasn't enough just to be positive about the party he seemed to have chosen, he even had time for a few shots at his (presumed) Liberal political rivals. A piece by John Gushue (The Telegram, March 26, 2000, Title: Youthful indiscretions) noted that:
I also found it curious that Kent took a nasty little crack at his competition in his e-mail to the CA.

"I think we've had enough of the recycled old boys that have been elected and re-elected for years in Newfoundland,'' wrote Kent, who is said to be a favourite of an oft-elected and arguably recycled politician named Brian Tobin.

Former provincial ministers aren't necessarily the best people to represent us in the House of Commons,'' he claimed. Until his candidacy was announced, Kent's competition had been Tom Murphy and Rex Gibbons, both former provincial ministers. (So, too, was Charlie Power, the MP whose resignation sparked all of this.)

Anyway, when it comes to slinging the mud and engaging in the art of war, the little grasshopper has learned much already. Maybe Kent will win the Liberal nomination; maybe he'll even go on to be a decent representative for St. John's West.

But if he wants to campaign on his credibility, he can't.
But why should thoughts like that commit you to running for the CA/Alliance when the siren call of the Natural Governing Party - the Liberal Party of Canada - beckons to you? And sure enough, Mr. Kent succumbed and ran instead for the Liberal nomination in St. John's West.

As Cleary wrote:
Kent, 21, said he was proud to be a card-carrying member of the federal and provincial Liberal parties since 1996. He expressed admiration for Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Premier Brian Tobin.
He lost that nomination fight but no matter. He had finally settled on a party and that party was Liberal, federal and provincial.

And this is the party he stuck by. He was so convinced that this was the party for him that he ran for, and won, a delegate spot at the recent Liberal leadership convention in Montreal that was held November 29 to December 1, 2006. This was after renewing his party membership sometime during the summer of 2006.

And I hear he worked that convention like a pro.

Little wonder reporters looked askance at him when he said "My Liberals credentials are very limited." After all, it was only 2 months from the time of the federal Liberal leadership convention in November to the time his latest political dalliance, this time with the provincial PC's, was outed on January 23.

"Without being too philosophical, I believe that time and circumstances change a great deal in this world," he said today.


I know a lot of people who are supporters of one political party or another and they will consider their party credentials to be fairly firm.

I know a few people who have run for, and won, positions at a national party convention. Those people consider their party credentials aboveboard and hardcore.

And then there are those very few who feel so strongly about their party identification, who consider the ideals of their political party to be so important to the country and province, that they will stick their neck out and actually run for a nomination.

Those people consider their party credentials to be above reproach.

If Mr. Kent considers his Liberal credentials very limited, what would it take for him to openly state, without equivocation, his party loyalties?

Perhaps a firm shot at a safe seat?

I think I'll just leave this matter in the hands of Mr. Gushue who wrote in the Telegram that:
Somehow, one gets the impression that Kent sees the Liberals and the CA/Reform crowd as just different brands on a shelf, labels with which he can continue to develop -- in his mind -- a more important product: Steve Kent.

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