Blake Doyle says he is confident interim leader will be in place soon
© Guardian photo
Outgoing PC Leader Olive Crane is flanked by fellow Progressive Conservative MLAs, James Aylward, left, and Hal Perry during the news conference announcing her resignation as PC leader.
As the Progressive Conservative party continues to scramble in the wake of Olive Crane’s imminent resignation as party leader, PC president Blake Doyle says he is confident the party will soon have a strong interim leader in place.
The party has been the focus of much attention over the last several weeks, especially after Crane announced last month she is quitting as party leader, but staying on as Opposition leader.
Many within the party did not know these two roles could be separated, and this has been the cause of much confusion and upset among some members, notably those who did not support Crane’s leadership.
Many are concerned this will mean there will be two PC leaders going forward — an Opposition leader (Crane) and an interim party leader — and question which one would be the proper representative of the membership.
Doyle says he has fielded many questions from members on this issue.
“It has created quite a bit of interest in the party dynamics and the party constitution and I think the process is very good because it has demonstrated that we do have an organized structure to deal with these unforeseen circumstances,” he said.
The next hurdle for the party to overcome is getting an interim leader in place.
The interim leader must be chosen within 30 days of Crane’s resignation. Any member in good standing can put their name forward for this position, but if more than one person does, the final decision will be made via election by the members of the party executive and the five elected MLAs.
Doyle said Wednesday the executive has asked the other four PC MLAs to consider serving as interim leader. But so far none have said whether they are interested.
If none of them do put their name forward, the interim leader could be an unelected party member.
“At this point, we haven’t had a conversation about who would will fill that position and the position is currently not vacated yet, so we cannot have a vote seeking that replacement,” Doyle said.
Doyle was cautious when answering The Guardian’s questions Wednesday, citing concerns over possibly generating confusion among the membership.
But sources have told The Guardian the executive and other members of the party have expressed frustration at the media spotlight that has been shone on the party and its inner processes and meetings in recent weeks.
Sources have also told The Guardian many members believe Crane is causing ongoing division within the party by staying on as Opposition leader while not being willing to serve as interim leader.
Crane said in December she is doing this to ensure continuity in the legislature as the party undergoes its processes to select a new leader.
But that hasn’t stopped some members from suggesting she wants to keep the Opposition leader job in order to retain the higher salary and government-sponsored vehicle.
Doyle did not discuss the situation involving Crane, except to say he is confident the party will move forward stronger from the current situation. He admitted it is not what he envisioned when he put his name forward for the presidency.
But he said he is committed to the party and will work to help it through this time of transition.
“I am 100 per cent up for this challenge,” Doyle said.
“I feel we have a great plan to move the party forward and that the association is absolutely moving forward.
He added details about the leadership convention have not yet been discussed or determined by the party executive.