POLITICS

Conservative Hopeful Kevin O'Brien Once Said Harper Had 'No Integrity'

07/02/2015 06:29 EDT | Updated 07/03/2015 10:59 EDT
CP

A former Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet minister will run for the federal Conservatives this fall despite stating publicly just a few years ago that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had "no integrity."

Kevin O'Brien, a longtime Progressive Conservative MHA who was shuffled out of Premier Paul Davis' cabinet in March, has reportedly been green-lit as the federal Tory candidate for the new riding of Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame. O'Brien will take on veteran Liberal MP Scott Simms.

The news was broken online Thursday by CBC journalist David Cochrane, who tweeted that O'Brien will resign as the MHA for the riding of Gander.

But Cochrane also shared a clip from a radio interview that could make things awkward for O'Brien as he tries to jump into a bigger political pond.

In the clip, O'Brien is heard calling into the VOCM radio program "Backtalk with Bill Rowe." It's not clear in which year the feisty interview took place, but O'Brien is referred to as the minister of government services — a position he held from 2007 to 2010.

At that time, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams was embroiled in a nasty public spat with Harper over equalization payments. Williams's "ABC campaign" in the 2008 federal election, in which he urged Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to vote "anything but Conservative," helped shut the Tories out of the province.

O'Brien begins by trying to list what Williams's government achieved "without the federal government, for the most part."

Rowe responded by asking why Newfoundland would want to do things on its own when part of a rich country.

"Why wouldn't we want to join forces and make sure we get the best deals possible federally and provincially?" the host asks.

"Absolutely. That's certainly what we would do," O'Brien said. "We've met a prime minister that has no integrity. Certainly we do want to work with Canada and we want to work with the federal government. And our fight is not with Canada."

On Harper, O'Brien added that "the man made promises and he broke promises."

But all that, evidently, is water under the bridge.

Meanwhile Ches Crosbie, the son of popular former PC cabinet minister John Crosbie, has been denied the chance to run for federal Conservatives this fall in the Newfoundland riding of Avalon.

John Crosbie told the CBC that the party's vetting committee objected to his son's role in a Shakespeare-inspired fundraising skit last spring for a local theatre company.

Playing the role of "King Harper" in a MacBeth parody, Ches Crosbie made references to both suspended Mike Duffy and Harper's former chief of staff, who cut the senator a now-infamous $90,000 cheque.

"Why should I play the political fool and die on my mine own sword while Nigel Wright and MacDuffy live, the gashes look better upon them," Crosbie said on stage.

"I shall not yield to kiss the ground beneath young Trudeau's feet and bear the curse of Danny Williams."

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