The term ‘placeholders’ entered the general lexicon when New Democrats recruited to fill the slate in Quebec unexpectedly found themselves victorious in the federal election last spring.
Some were bartenders or students, whose connection to the riding and commitment to political life seemed at times tenuous.
But it is a statement of legitimacy for serious parties to run in all ridings. And now, less than two weeks before a provincial election in Newfoundland and Labrador, comes a glimpse of what can be involved as a struggling party gathers up the cannon fodder.
Enter Phillip Mullins, briefly the Liberal candidate in the suburban St. John’s district of Mount Pearl North, who revealed that the party had jumped immediately on his spur-of-the-moment interest in running.
This is hardly a district the Grits have much chance of winning. In 2007 Progressive Conservative Steve Kent took it with a comfortable 85.05 per cent. But running anything less than a full slate would be embarrassing.
The once-mighty provincial Liberals, who have won more than half of the elections since Confederation, have slid to third in the polls and the New Democrats are hoping to become the Official Opposition on Oct. 11. The party finally announced Wednesday afternoon, at approximately 4 o’clock local time, that they had filled their slate. Included in the final candidate announcement was Mr. Mullins. But a series of messages on the man’s Twitter feed that same day indicate limited commitment and a quick re-think.
Wednesday morning Mr. Mullins tweeted that he’d sent an e-mail enquiring about a vacant candidacy in the district. The idea seemed to amuse him – the message included the words “Wow. lol” – but he went on to write that he got a call “10 minutes later” for a lunch meeting. By mid-afternoon he was tweeting that he was “officially the candidate for Mt. Pearl Nth.”
The Liberal Party release touting their full slate went out shortly after.
But by evening Mr. Mullins had reconsidered.
“After talking with my family and considering the personal and work commitments I have, I will be declining the nomination for Mt. Pearl Nth,” he wrote.
The parties have until Saturday to file nomination papers. The Progressive Conservatives, who are far ahead in the polls, secured their final candidate more than two weeks ago. The New Democrats filled their slate this week.