Celebrity sportscaster and former NHL coach Doug MacLean says he considering suggestions from local Tory insiders that he should run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party.
MacLean says he is nowhere near a final decision on the matter, but is considering it as a potential option for his future.
“I have no idea whether I’m going to do it or not, but it’s an honour and I’m going to think about it,” he said.
MacLean is just one of many names being added to lists of potential leadership candidates ever since current Opposition Leader Olive Crane announced last week she is resigning as the leader of the PC party on Jan. 30.
MacLean says he was approached by a group of party members two years ago, shortly before the last PC leadership convention.
At that time he was asked to decide right away whether he would like to run. He says the deadline was too tight for him and he declined.
This time, he was called the very day Crane announced her resignation.
Now he says he’ll give it some thought.
But don’t expect him to mount a campaign anytime soon. MacLean says he was told by the group of party insiders encouraging him to run he would not be expected to announce for another two years.
“They’ve basically said they’re not going to do anything for a couple of years so that will make it a little easier to think it through,” MacLean said.
He admits he has never been involved with the party and would have to make a big change in his current living situation – he lives in Florida, commutes to Toronto for work and summers in P.E.I.
But since his commitment with Rogers Sportsnet expires in a few years, he is not ruling out the idea of throwing his hat in the leadership race.
“I’m going to consider it, I’ll talk to my family about it, talk to some friends about it… I’ll thoroughly think through it and make a decision because it’s a monumental commitment.”
In the meantime, the PC party will have to determine who will be the interim leader of the party.
Party president Blake Doyle says this will be decided by a vote of the executive and Conservative MLAs 30 days after Crane has resigned. That places the vote on March 1, 2013.
“I have no idea whether I’m going to do it or not, but it’s an honour and I’m going to think about it,” - Doug MacLean
So far, no one has officially put their name forward for the interim leader position and Crane has said she is not interested in taking this on.
But since she and the Tory caucus have decided she would stay on as Opposition leader, this has created much confusion about what role the interim leader will play.
Doyle said there could be many different scenarios that take shape, including an interim leader of the party who is not currently an elected member or an interim leader alongside Opposition leader Olive Crane within the Tory caucus.
UPEI political science professor Peter McKenna said this would create a great deal of confusion over who would take the lead in the party, especially when the legislature is in session.
“Who would decide or speak for the party?” he said.
McKenna says he is perplexed over Crane’s decision to stay on as Opposition leader if she does not plan to continue as either party leader or interim leader.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before… it can’t be good for the PC party of P.E.I.,” he said.
“I think there’s just way too much uncertainty and confusion for Island voters.”
Doyle, on the other hand, remains positive.
He plans to meet with the PC MLAs Thursday and with the party executive early in the New Year to discuss plans for electing an interim leader.
The leadership convention itself, meanwhile, could be as far away as 2015.
“We’ve got a lot of interest in the party with everything that’s happening and this is just a very mechanical process that will work itself out in short order and the party will continue to advance on our agenda,” Doyle said.