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N.L. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie addresses supporters in St. John's, on May 16, 2019.Paul Daly/The Canadian Press

The leader of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Progressive Conservative Party has called for a review of his own leadership, saying he’ll step aside if someone else is better equipped to bring the party back to power.

Ahead of the party’s annual general meeting in Gander this weekend, Ches Crosbie, whose party is the official Opposition to the province’s governing Liberals, is proposing a spring leadership review.

The party’s constitution does not call for automatic reviews, but Crosbie said he considers the “bold move” a statement on the need for democratic reform.

Crosbie told reporters Thursday that he has the full confidence of his caucus. Though he has received feedback about his lack of charisma, he said other qualities are more important in order to tackle the province’s challenges.

“They point out to me that I may not be the most charismatic individual,” Crosbie said. “To that I would say, we’re not in a situation in Newfoundland and Labrador history where what’s called for is frothy, superficial charisma. We’re in a situation where we need substance.”

The Tory caucus nearly doubled in size in last May’s election, which saw the Liberals re-elected with a minority. But Crosbie attracted criticism for a combative election night speech in which he threatened to topple the Liberals and called the results a constitutional crisis. Crosbie later apologized for the remarks, which he said came from a place of passion.

Reflecting on what he considers a successful fall session so far in the House of Assembly, Crosbie said he plans to continue working to convince people of his leadership qualities before next spring.

The finer details of the leadership review, including what percentage of support Crosbie is seeking, are not yet defined. In a Thursday statement, he said the caucus supports the call for reform that would incorporate post-election leadership reviews into regular party business.

With a minority government in power, Crosbie said a change in government could happen “any time,” so there’s an “obligation” to be prepared.

That means Crosbie himself would step down if that’s what it takes for the Tories to form government.

“I’m not in this to cling to a job. I’m in this to advance the best interests of the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.

“If that means me standing aside for somebody more capable of attracting the popularity of the public, then that’s what I’ll do.”

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